Naval Warfare, 1815-1914

By Lawrence Sondhaus | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO

Continuity and change, 1830-50

Fifteen years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the introduction of steam propulsion promised to change the future of naval warfare, but as yet there was no consensus on the nature and degree of the change. By 1840 the establishment of the first transatlantic steam packet lines demonstrated the commercial value of regularly scheduled transoceanic service, impossible under sail, but the requirements of merchant shipping lines offering point-to-point service were far different from those of the leading navies, which had to be able to cruise anywhere in the world as needed.

The introduction of the paddle wheel, and its eclipse by the screw propeller during the 1840s, left the typical mid-century fleet with a hodgepodge of vessels (sail, paddle, and screw) of all sizes. In the absence of naval conflict among the great powers, the state of naval warfare was illustrated in minor Mediterranean clashes, the skirmishes between Austria and the Italian states in the Adriatic in 1848-49, and Prussian-German attempts at naval warfare against Denmark in the Baltic and the North Sea during the same years. While the age of great colonial expeditions had passed and the heyday of “gunboat diplomacy” was yet to come, naval actions such as the First Opium War (1839-42) reflected the growing naval superiority of the West over the non-Western world.


The dawning age of steam (1830s)

France's partnership with Britain, forged in support of Greek independence, continued after 1830 under the government of Louis Philippe. For almost a decade the French were willing collaborators in the enforcement of the Pax Britannica around the maritime fringe of western Europe. After Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1830, they agreed to support an independent and neutral Belgian kingdom. When the Dutch invaded Belgium, the British and French navies cooperated in a blockade while French troops intervened to force a retreat of the Dutch army. The allies calculated, correctly, that the Netherlands would not risk its navy. All seven Dutch ships of the line and several of their twenty-five frigates remained safely at anchor in the Scheldt while the British and the French, with a force smaller than that, maintained the blockade

-27-

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Naval Warfare, 1815-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Plates vi
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter One - The Twilight of Sail, 1815-30 1
  • Notes 24
  • Chapter Two - Continuity and Change, 1830-50 27
  • Chapter Three - The 1850s 55
  • Chapter Four - The Ironclad Revolution 73
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter Five - The 1870s 108
  • Chapter Six - The Jeune école 139
  • Chapter Seven - The Rebirth of the Battleship 160
  • Chapter Eight - The Dreadnought and the Origins of the First World War 197
  • Chapter Nine - Reflections on Deterrence 225
  • Bibliography 230
  • Index 237
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