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Types of Naval Officers Drawn from the History of the British Navy   By: (1840-1914)

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Drawn from the History of the British Navy

With Some Account of the Conditions of Naval Warfare at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, and of its subsequent development during the Sail Period


A. T. Mahan, D.C.L., LL.D. Captain, United States Navy

Author of the "Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660 1783," and "Upon the French Revolution and Empire;" of "The Life of Nelson," and a "Life of Farragut"

London Sampson Low, Marston & Company Limited 1902 Copyright, 1893 by Houghton, Mifflin and Company. Copyright, 1901 by A. T. Mahan. All rights reserved November, 1901 University Press · John Wilson and Son · Cambridge, U.S.A.


Although the distinguished seamen, whose lives and professional characteristics it is the object of this work to present in brief summary, belonged to a service now foreign to that of the United States, they have numerous and varied points of contact with America; most of them very close, and in some instances of marked historical interest. The older men, indeed, were during much of their careers our fellow countrymen in the colonial period, and fought, some side by side with our own people in this new world, others in distant scenes of the widespread strife that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century, the beginnings of "world politics;" when, in a quarrel purely European in its origin, "black men," to use Macaulay's words, "fought on the coast of Coromandel, and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America." All, without exception, were actors in the prolonged conflict that began in 1739 concerning the right of the ships of Great Britain and her colonies to frequent the seas bordering the American dominions of Spain; a conflict which, by gradual expansion, drew in the continent of Europe, from Russia to France, spread thence to the French possessions in India and North America, involved Spanish Havana in the western hemisphere and Manila in the eastern, and finally entailed the expulsion of France from our continent. Thence, by inevitable sequence, issued the independence of the United States. The contest, thus completed, covered forty three years.

The four seniors of our series, Hawke, Rodney, Howe, and Jervis, witnessed the whole of this momentous period, and served conspicuously, some more, some less, according to their age and rank, during its various stages. Hawke, indeed, was at the time of the American Revolution too old to go to sea, but he did not die until October 16, 1781, three days before the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, which is commonly accepted as the closing incident of our struggle for independence. On the other hand, the two younger men, Saumarez and Pellew, though they had entered the navy before the American Revolution, saw in it the beginnings of an active service which lasted to the end of the Napoleonic wars, the most continuous and gigantic strife of modern times. It was as the enemies of our cause that they first saw gunpowder burned in anger.

Nor was it only amid the commonplaces of naval warfare that they then gained their early experiences in America. Pellew in 1776, on Lake Champlain, bore a brilliant part in one of the most decisive though among the least noted campaigns of the Revolutionary contest; and a year later, as leader of a small contingent of seamen, he shared the fate of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga. In 1776 also, Saumarez had his part in an engagement which ranks among the bloodiest recorded between ships and forts, being on board the British flag ship Bristol at the attack upon Fort Moultrie, the naval analogue of Bunker Hill; for, in the one of these actions as in the other, the great military lesson was the resistant power against frontal attack of resolute marksmen, though untrained to war, when fighting behind entrenchments, a teaching renewed at New Orleans, and emphasized in the recent South African War... Continue reading book >>

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