Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
We often assume that those who fought for Great Britain against the French for more than two decades were English. The reality is that men from North America also participated in the wars between 1793 and 1815. Most did so voluntarily because of their deep abiding loyalty to England. Some were forced to serve the king against their will. This book – sponsored by The 1805 Club and the fifty-first entry in Helion’s From Reason to Revolution 1721-1815 series – spotlights some of the officers and enlisted men who served in the Royal Navy during this historical period, and also looks at their lives and careers throughout their lives. The contributors of these essays include military and maritime historians; members of the US Navy, Royal Navy, and US Marine Corps; educators; and others who have particular interest in the Georgian navy and the Age of Nelson.
To gain a better understanding of this time and these men, the first four essays focus on the Great War’s impact on North America and the West Indies, the relationship between the United States and Royal Navies after Napoleon’s downfall, impressment, and North Americans who were present at the Battle of Trafalgar. The other half of the book contains biographical portraits of those who served and these are divided into three regions: the Mid-Atlantic and South, New England, and Canada and the West Indies. The Brentons of Newport, Rhode Island, and the Coffins and Lorings of Boston, Massachusetts made joining the Royal Navy a family affair. Two – Ordinary Seaman William Cooper of Brookhaven, New York and Able Seaman Philip Brimblecom of Marblehead, Massachusetts – served belowdecks. More than a few officers went on to become admirals in the Royal Navy. Captain Nicholas Biddle of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was one of two men who died at the age of twenty-eight, while the longest to live was Captain John Loring, who was 92 when he passed. Of all those who fought at Trafalgar, Captain William Carleton of New Brunswick, Canada became the longest-living survivor. Another Canadian, Lieutenant William Pringle Green of Halifax, Nova Scotia, held that officer rank for more than forty years. One senior officer, who came from Jamaica and served in several capacities while protecting British interests in the Caribbean, was Captain John Perkins, the first mulatto officer in the Royal Navy. While the majority of these men saw themselves as loyal Englishmen doing their duty, two of the men included in this book were pressed, managed to escape, and served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.
Illustrations and maps are found throughout the book. Footnotes accompany each chapter, rather than being placed in a notes section at the narrative’s conclusion. A lengthy bibliography and an index are also included.
While the men portrayed in these pages may not be known to readers, historians are familiar with all of them. Their stories, however, are often not included in other books about the period. Combining the men with thematic essays about the period provides the necessary context to understand what was happening at this point in history. There are fascinating and insightful tidbits within these pages that enlighten and expand our knowledge; at the same time, the information offers up possibilities for future in-depth research. The primary goal of this book is to show that men outside of Britain fought valiantly for king and country, and the editors and contributors have done a laudable job in this endeavor. Highly recommended and a worthy companion to Nelson’s Band of Brothers (Seaforth, 2015) and The 1805 Club’s series, The Trafalgar Chronicle.
Review Copyrighted ©2020 Cindy Vallar
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