Navies of the Napoleonic Era

By Taylor, Blaine | Sea Classics, February 2013 | Go to article overview
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Navies of the Napoleonic Era


Taylor, Blaine, Sea Classics


NAVIES OF THE NAPOLEONIC ERA by Digby Smith Schiffer Military History Book, 2012, $39.95

Yup, that's correct and you read it right - that's Navies of the Napoleonic Era, and this splendidly illustrated, very detailed, and well-written volume contains not only the "usual suspects" of France, Great Britain, and the United States during the War of 1812, but also those of all the others. These include Austria, Denmark, Italy, Naples, The Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. For instance, concerning Prussia, the author states, "Despite her preeminent status as a European land power in the 8th Century and a large merchant fleet - the Hanseatic League - Prussia had no Navy to speak of.

"There was only a paramilitary force of small craft designed for coast guard duties and enforcement of the Continental system," i.e., to interdict black market vessels attempting to enter Europe illegally. "This Naval impotence can be traced to a decision by Frederick the Great not to begin Naval development, that he feared, might detract from the importance of his Army."

In fact, this was exactly what did happen over a century later under the reign of his descendant and successor as King of Prussia - Kaiser Wilhelm II - when the latter bankrolled the Imperial German High Seas Fleet during 1897-1914 at the expense of the German Army

Part One of this magnificent tome - The Ships and the Men - discusses ship construction, life at sea, 1792 Naval battle tactics, and the balance of Naval forces from the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars that year.

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