Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
Trafalgar Chronicle (RN & USN) Trafalgar Chronicle (RM & USMC) Women and the Sea Friends and Contemporaries
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 ReidBlack-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 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
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
The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 2
Edited by Peter Hore
Seaforth, 2017, ISBN 978-1-4738-9976-6, £20.00 / US $32.95
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
The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 3
Edited by Peter Hore
Seaforth, 2018, ISBN 978-1-4738-9976-6, £20.00 / US $32.95
Also available in e-book formats
The Trafalgar Chronicle explores new research about the Georgian navy (also known as Nelson’s Navy. Since the articles support a central theme for each edition, this latest issue focuses on women and the sea during this time period. As Margarette Lincoln points out in the opening essay, “Women and the Sea,” this topic was often overlooked until 1990 when women in the Royal Navy were finally permitted to serve at sea and Jo Stanley’s Bold in Her Breeches: Women Pirates across the Ages was published in 1995. This latest volume of The Trafalgar Chronicle “is an important step in furthering our understanding of women’s myriad connections with the sea.” (12)
The eighteen remaining articles cover a wide range of topics. Peter James Bowman’s “A Real-life Jane Austen Heroine and her Naval Hero” discusses the love story of Katherine Bisshopp and George Pechell. “Questing for Cuba Cornwallis, Nelson’s Afro-Caribbean Nurse” is Jo Stanley’s hunt to learn more about the woman who tended Horatio Nelson during his illness in Jamaica in 1780, and to understand why her minor role in his life has “been elevated into almost a heroine, and been so widely interpreted on the basis of so very little evidence.” (28) Kevin Brown examines prostitution and the navy in “Portsmouth Polls and Spithead Nymphs: Sexual Health in Nelson’s Navy.”
Using letters and correspondence, Heather Noel-Smith and Lorna M. Campbell explore the lives of three women – two mothers of midshipmen and Susan Pellew, the commander’s wife – in “‘I Shall be Anxious to Know . . .’: Lives of the Indefatigable Women.” Ellen Gill also references letters to show how women dealt with hardships and separation during war in “Letters Home: Trauma and the Cost of Conflict in Eighteenth-Century Naval Families.” During this period, soldiers were often transported overseas to fight and David Clammer examines the journeys that their wives experienced when traveling with their husbands in “Women All at Sea: Soldiers’ Wives aboard Naval Transports during the Napoleonic War.” Lucie Dutton’s “Utterly Charming and Adorable: Lady Nelson of the Silent Screen” takes a close look at why actress Ivy Close was chosen to play Fanny Nelson in Nelson: The Story of England’s Immortal Naval Hero (1918) and how Maurice Elvey crafted a love story with tense undercurrents.
Lily Style discusses “Four Female Ancestors: Life in Trade, Foreign Courts and Domesticity,” two of whom were Kitty Matcham (Horatio Nelson’s favorite sister) and Emma Hamilton (Nelson’s paramour). The latter and her mother are the focus of Geoff Wright’s “Emma, Lady Hamilton: The Untold Story,” where he explores how Emy Lyon became Lady Hamilton. Charles Fremantle’s “Lady Bentinck and the Tunis Slaves” is about a woman, dressed as a Royal Marine, participated in a mission to North Africa to recover Sicilian slaves. “Did Nelson Know Mary Anne Talbot? The Strange Story of Mary Anne Talbot” by Peter Turner demonstrates why this tale of another woman who dressed as a man cannot be true.
Marianne Kindgren and Birgitta Tingdal focus on a female smuggler who became entangled in Gotheburg’s last case of piracy in “Johanna Hård: The Story of a Swedish Piratess.” The Bank of England prosecuted a number of women whose punishment involved serving their sentences in Australia, which is the topic of Deirdre Palk’s “‘Going to the Bay in Utmost of Distress’: Women Convicts Being Transported to Australia 1803-1824.” Karen McAulay and Brianna Robertson-Kirkland demonstrate that Georgian women knew what was happening in politics and that they used the medium of music to convey this knowledge to others in “‘My Love to War is Going’: Women and Song in the Napoleonic Era.”
Each reader of The Trafalgar Chronicle will have their own favorite essays within this collection and I am no different. No matter a man’s rank or rating, men wanted to give their sweethearts mementos of their love. While officers could afford to bestow miniature portraits, those with lesser means left their women engraved coins, both of which are discussed in Sim Comfort’s “When You See Thee, Remember Me, Forget Me Not.” Particularly unique in the telling is Joe Callo’s “Television Interview with Emma, Lady Hamilton.” The question-and-answer format allows readers to gain a better understanding of this woman from her perspective, rather than how others tend to portray her. Normally, men went to sea and the females in their lives stayed home, but from 25 June 1796 to 1 September 1797, Betsey Fremantle lived at sea on several different ships. Tom Fremantle’s “The ‘Kidnap’ of Betsey Fremantle: A Captain’s Romance” tells the story of how this young refugee ended up on Inconstant, married the captain, and lived aboard warships until after she became pregnant and he was wounded.
The book includes one final essay – Sea Surgeons and the Barbers’ Company of London by Peter Willoughby – which doesn’t fit into the theme of women and the sea, yet it is equally interesting and important. Black and white images are found throughout the collection, and about one third of the way into the book is a color section of illustrations.
While this edition isn’t as absorbing as earlier volumes, the fact that it focuses on women makes this an important contribution to maritime history.
Review Copyrighted ©2019 Cindy Vallar
The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 4
Edited by Peter Hore
Seaforth, 2019, ISBN 978-1-5267-5950-4, £20.00 / US $39.95
Also available in e-book formats
The annual journal of The 1805 Club shares the latest research into Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Viscount Nelson and his era. Each issue has a central theme, and this, the twenty-ninth such offering, focuses on his friends and contemporaries. The majority of those depicted in this volume come from families that remained loyal to the British Crown, during and after the American Revolution, even though their members lived in the American colonies at the outbreak of hostilities. Others opted to follow the road toward independence. These twenty-one essays also cover a breadth of distance, extending from Honduran islands to Australian shores and several places in between.
John Lehman’s “The Decaturs, the Lehmans and the Privateers” examines the American privateers during the Revolutionary War with particular emphasis on Captain Stephen Decatur, Senior of the Fair American, and his ship’s surgeon, George Lehman.
“The Summer Before Trafalgar” is Susan K. Smith’s survey of Benjamin Silliman, a college professor from America, who visited England in 1805. He kept a journal of his travels and special events, such as his opportunity to see Admiral Nelson and what happened when news of his final victory and death reached London.
With numerous connections to Irish officers, some of whom were mentors and others who were friends and colleagues, one might almost claim “Nelson Was an Irishman,” as Des Grant explains in his essay.
Since seamen faced many perils, it is no wonder that religion played a role in the everyday lives of the crew. Not all naval chaplains adhered to the stereotypical preacher, as The Reverend Lynda Sebbage discusses in “Sin Bo’suns in Nelson’s Ships.” One of her atypical examples is a chaplain who often found himself one step ahead of the authorities.
While men fought the conflicts, women also played their parts. Derek Morris and Kenneth Cozens look at what women of this era could and did do in “The Role of Women in London’s Sailortown in the Eighteenth Century.”
Harold E. ‘Pete’ Stark discusses “North America’s Seafaring Cities” in his essay of ports and how they evolved in North America, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. Not all served the same purpose. Nor were they equal in importance to the Royal Navy. But all played a role in Britain’s maritime economy.
“Loyalist Mariners during the American Revolution” is Thomas B. Allen’s offering. He covers the often-neglected Whaleboat War and includes the perspective of the common sailors – such as Jacob Nagle, one of the few sailors who shared their experiences – who fought.
Tom S. Iampietro shares the story of “Admiral George Augustus Westphal,” who lived longer than any other officer who served with Nelson at Trafalgar. Wounded himself in the battle, he was with the admiral when he died. T. Jeremy Waters, on the other hand, looks at Westphal’s brother, “Admiral Philip Westphal,” whose career was overshadowed by his younger sibling.
The man who holds the record for longest naval service is “Admiral of the Fleet Sir Provo William Parry Wallis.” Jeremy B. Utt outlines this man’s career from when Wallis’s name first appeared in a muster book when he was four years old to his time as Queen Victoria’s naval aide-de-camp.
Present at Nelson’s death, “Lieutenant Richard Bulkeley” was immortalized in Benjamin’s West’s depiction of the admiral’s death, as discussed in John R. Satterfield’s essay. He was a midshipman aboard Victory, where he spoke with Nelson before he died. His own life was cut short at the age of twenty-five.
Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick contributes two offerings in this volume. The first is about one of Nelson’s Canadian friends, “Admiral Sir Manley Dixon, KCB.” The second discusses “Rear-Admiral Thomas Tudor Tucker” of Bermuda, who survived the wreck of HMS Sceptre, participated in the navy’s experiment of adding citrus to grog rations, and was present when the Royal Navy captured the USS Essex, during the War of 1812.
Anna Kiefer reviews the career of “Captain William Gordon Rutherford, CB” of North Carolina, who enlisted in the Royal Navy more than once and also served with the Honourable East India Company. Barry Jolly reconsiders the career and life of “Rear-Admiral John Peyton” since he has often been confused with other family members. Rui Ribolhos Filipe’s “The Beach of the English Dead” considers the actions of Captain Conway Shipley, the first British officer to die in action during the Peninsular War. Rather than focus on a particular person, Mark West delves into the “Russians on the Tagus” and their connection to Portsmouth and the naval hospital at Haslar.
Anthony Cross analyzes the development of hot air balloons and their use during times of war in “Bringing Up Franklin’s Baby.” Anthony Bruce assesses another weapon in warfare, the navy’s use of “The Carronade.”
The final two essays return to the Caribbean. Rear-Admiral Michael Harris investigates the “Battle of St. George’s Cay, 10 September 1798,” which also has ties to British seafarers and buccaneers. Douglas Hamilton probes the extraordinary career of “Captain John Perkins,” a black officer and former slave assigned to protect British colonies involved in slavery.
In addition to these articles, black-and-white illustrations, tables, and maps are found throughout the book. There is also a section of color plates depicting ships, campaigns, and commentary involving the Royal Navy. While notes are included, no index is provided.
This latest offering of The Trafalgar Chronicles educates, clarifies, and demystifies the Nelson Era. Its focus is broader than some previous issues, but this serves to immerse readers in a wider swath of topics that might otherwise be missed. The fourth volume in the new series is a compelling review of the variety and depth of research being conducted and readers will meet people and visit places that are more often than not forgotten in history books.
Review Copyrighted ©2020 Cindy Vallar
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