NELSON'S BATTLES: The Triumph of British Seapower


NELSON'S BATTLES: The Triumph of British Seapower

NICHOLAS TRACY    Book Number: 87378    Product format: Hardback

The naval battles won by the officers and men of the Royal Navy, led and inspired by Horatio Nelson's commitment and courage, were fundamental to the outcome of the wars triggered by the French Revolution, and sustained by Napoleonic ambition. The Battle of Trafalgar was an engagement between the combined fleets of France and Spain and that of Britain. Thousands of lives were lost and many more were maimed during the fighting as well as the great surges of a mighty storm driving the engagement on to the coast. Horatio Nelson exercises an enduring fascination, combining heroism, charisma and tactical genius with very human faults. The book is a study of the nature and conduct of war at sea during the first true 'World War'. Altogether over a hundred captains served with Nelson either with or for him in 11 actions afloat. Three of these men, Thomas Fremantle, Robert Miller and Thomas Foley, served with him on five occasions. Some like Philip Durham, Henry Digby and James Gore had already distinguished themselves in dozens of successful actions as great seamen in the continuous blockade of the coast of France, before promotions to 74s and allocation to Nelson's command. Prize money and promotion counted for little and ideology was limited to the efforts of the United Irishmen to provoke mutiny. The disturbances which affected the Mediterranean fleet did not affect the outcome of the Tenerife expedition, and the Battle of the Nile was won by a squadron including four ships which had at least displayed what St Vincent described as 'ill humour' just a year before. The seamanship and gunnery drills instilled into ordinary sailors created a fearsome fighting machine. The story runs from Horatio Nelson's dramatic initiative which won the battle of St Vincent in 1797 to his last battle at Trafalgar which reduced the enemy naval forces so thoroughly that they were no longer able to have any bearing on the outcome of the war. The book looks at the exciting years of development in the 18th century and Britain's mastery of the seas. The Seven Years War and the War of the American Revolution stimulated the development of new ideas, developments in ship design and signalling, the perfection of drill, and transformed naval methods. Nelson's technical prowess made him the consummate master of naval warfare. Incorporates the most up-to-date research, 288 well illustrated pages, maps.
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ISBN 9781848320093
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from CHRISTOPHER JUDSON on 27/04/2020
This is the second, revised edition of Nicholas Tracy's book on Nelson first published in 1996. It is not a biography but a detailed study of Nelson's engagements in three substantial chapters ('Cape St Vincent and The Nile', 'The Battle of Copenhagen' and 'The Battle of Trafalgar') which take up the second half of the book. The first half comprises two scene-setting chapters ('Nelson and Sea Power' and 'Guns, Ships and Battle Tactics') which trace Nelson's early career and helpfully place his achievements in the wider context of the naval operations of the time and wider British policy. Tracy argues that Nelson's greatest attributes were his boldness and, even more importantly, his (relatively) humane treatment of those under his command and thus his ability to lead and inspire them to follow him in audacity. Tracy sees Nelson as crucial to the defeat of Napoleon but, ironically, his approach was largely abandoned after his death, the Admiralty believing that his unorthodox tactics would not succeed under anyone else of lesser charisma and inspiration.