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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Books for Adults - Nonfiction

Trafalgar Chronicle (RN & USN)            Trafalgar Chronicle (RM & USMC)

Cover Art: Trafalgar Chronicle 2016
The Trafalgar Chronicle: Dedicated to Naval History in the Nelson Era
Edited by Peter Hore
Seaforth, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4738-9572-0, paperback US $29.95 / £20.00

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From two friends who scampered off a warship to hunt polar bears on an iceberg,g to a fifteen-year-old’s account of the Battle of Northpoint, to HMS Victory’s appearance at the Battle of Trafalgar, to a seaman who became a marine artist, the twenty-sixth yearbook of The 1805 Club offers a cornucopia of topics for every reader. Some, like Horatio Nelson, HMS Victory, and J. M. W. Turner, are well-known; others, such as Nicholas Biddle, Frédéric Rolette, and the Duguay-Trouin, may only be familiar to a few.

This volume of The Trafalgar Chronicle begins a new series whose primary objective is to shed light on the relationship between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. Peter Hore, the editor and a former naval officer, provides an outstanding collection of seventeen articles that shed light on new research about people and events from before the American Revolution through the conclusion of the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars. They are written by experts in their fields and avid researchers. These men and women include current and former military personnel, historians, curators, educators, and archivists.

While there is no index, the titles of the articles make it easy for readers to locate information.
Nicholas Biddle: America’s Revolutionary War Nelson by Chipp Reid
The Earliest Known ‘Stars and Stripes’ by Peter Hore
Nelson in Troubled Waters by Joseph F. Callo
The Chesapeake—Leopard Affair, 1807 by Anthony Bruce
Impressment: Politics and People by Kathryn Milburn
A Boy in Battle by Charles A. Fremantle
The Rocket’s Red Glare: Francis Scot Key and the Star-Spangled Banner by Charles Neimeyer
Frédéric Rolette: Un Canadien héros de la guerre de 1812 by Samuel Venière and Caroline Girard
Pathfinders: Front-line Hydrographic Data-gathering in the Wars of American Independence and 1812 by Michael Barritt
Charting the Waters: The Emergence of Modern Marine Charting and Surveying during the Career of James Cook in North American Waters, 1758-67 by Victor Suthren
Captain Archibald Kennedy, an American in the Royal Navy by Byrne McLeod
Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin: Nelson’s American Pallbearer by Peter Turner
What Did HMS Victory Actually Look Like at the Battle of Trafalgar? by John Conover
Thomas Butterworth: A Biographical Note of a Sailor Turned Artist by Kathryn Campbell
Port Mahon under Admiral Fremantle 1810-11 by Tom D. Fremantle
Sir Richard Stachan by Mark West
Samuel Brokensha, Master RN by Nigel Hughes
Black-and-white photographs and drawings accompany all the articles, some of which also direct readers to particular illustrations in the center section of color plates. Notes listing source material or providing additional information for each article are collected at the end of the book, as are brief biographies of the contributors.

The Trafalgar Chronicle offers a tantalizing look into forgotten or overlooked subjects. Its contents will enlighten all readers, and sometimes entertain them. When the back cover closes, each will have their own favorites for many different reasons, myself included. For example, Rear-Admiral Callo’s article allowed me to glimpse the history behind a novel I recently read. Charles Freemantle’s offering not only introduced me to his ancestor, but also allowed me to see Baltimore and its environs in the past through the eyes of a stranger during a time of war. These are but two of mine, although all the contributions taught me things I didn’t know. The next yearbook, whose emphasis will be on Royal Marines and the US Marine Corps during the Georgian Ear, sounds equally intriguing.


Review Copyrighted ©2017 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Trafalgar
            Chronicle New Series 2
The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 2
Edited by Peter Hore
Seaforth, 2017, ISBN 978-1-4738-9976-6, £20.00 / US $32.95

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The Royal Marines, whose history traces back to 1664, and the United States Marine Corps, first founded in 1775, gained distinction when the world was at war between 1792 and 1815. Past histories have often given short shrift to these sea soldiers, but here The 1805 Club allows them to take center stage. The various essays chosen for inclusion demonstrate the vital roles they played and illustrate why they participated in “every important action of fleet, afloat and ashore during the Great War.” (5) The contributors include navy and marine personnel, academics, researchers, writers, and historians.

The book opens with Julian Thompson’s “The Marines: The Early Days,” which explores the origins of the British Marines, how they became the Royal Marines, who they were, and what they did during their first 151 years. Anthony Bruce focuses on “The Marines in Boston, 1774-75,” with particular emphasis on the events leading up to and including the Battle of Bunker Hill, while Britt Zerbe examines their participation in the Battle of Trafalgar and their marginalized treatment in the age of sail in “That Matchless Victory: Trafalgar, the Royal Marines and Sea Battle in the Age of Nelson.”

In “Leathernecks: The US Marine Corps in the Age of the Barbary Pirates” Charles Neimeyer discusses the origins of their contemporary nickname and their activities in America’s war with Tripoli, which is immortalized in the “Marines’ Hymn.” Benjamin Armstrong also looks at this war, but his focus is on Commodore Edward Preble and naval diplomacy in “‘Against the Common Enemies’: American Allies and Partners in the First Barbary War.”

Two other essays discuss the naval officers who also held commissions in the Marines, even though they never served as marines themselves. John D. Bolt’s “The ‘Blue Colonels’ of Marines: Sinecure and Shaping the Royal Marine Identity” explains this practice and how Royal Marines viewed it, as well as how it affected their ability to advance through the ranks. David Clammer focuses on one particular officer, who was charged with defending England’s coastline from a French invasion in “Captain Ingram, the Sea Fencibles, the Signal Stations and the Defence of Dorset.”

“The Royal Marines Battalions in the War of 1812” by Alexander Craig looks at raids and encounters in the Chesapeake Bay and Canada, while Robert K. Sutcliff’s “The First Royal Marine Battalion’s Peninsular War 1810-1812” examines their activities in Portugal and Spain. Tom Fremantle explores the thirty-six-year career of “Captain Philip Gidley King, Royal Navy, Third Governor of New South Wales,” an ancestor who served on several ships before being sent to Botany Bay to establish a base for the convict colony.

Larrie D. Ferreriro discusses the French and Spanish navies in “The Rise and Fall of the Bourbon Armada, 1744-1805: From Toulon to Trafalgar,” while Jann M. Witt explores “Smuggling and Blockade Running during the Anglo-Danish War of 1807-14.”

Another author, Allan Adair, also writes about his ancestors. He focuses on two brothers – one a captain in the Royal Marines, the other a fourteen-year-old master’s mate – who participated in Trafalgar in “Loyal Au Mort: The Adairs at the Battle of Trafalgar.” Sim Comfort, on the other hand, turns his attention to a weapon and the man who wielded it in “The Royal Marine Uniform Sword by Blake, London, Provenanced to Captain Richard Welchman, Royal Marines.”

Two additional entries in this book provide glimpses into two men who were veterans of Trafalgar: “Marine Stephen Humphries 1786-1865” and “Captain James Cottell: The Pictorial Life of a Trafalgar Veteran.” Humphries’s account of Trafalgar, his first fight, his time as a prisoner of the French, and his participation in the march on Washington are from his memoir, one of the few written by a marine that has survived to the present day. In the other offering, John Rawlinson provides background to tie together Cottell’s life with the many sketches and watercolors that he made while at sea.

For me, these last two offerings are the most intriguing and absorbing, but all the essays enlighten readers and illuminate men who deserve more recognition, but rarely receive it. Excerpts from primary documentation are included in some, while resources consulted and other materials are listed in the endnotes. Recruiting posters, maps, portraits, paintings, and tables are among the illustrations included with the contributions. A center section of color plates, including Geoff Hunt’s painting of marines aboard a ship, further enriches the text. There is also a list of contributors with short biographies. As always, the yearbook shines a spotlight on tantalizing new naval research in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and this edition with its focus on the marines makes this a praiseworthy contribution to any library or historian fascinated with the Georgian Navy.

 Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar


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