This is the 'Bible' for the many enthusiasts of British Naval history in the age of Nelson. What Sir Charles Oman did for the Peninsular War, William James (d.1827) did for the Napoleonic Wars at sea: writing a comprehensive, massively detailed account of the real-life actions that lay behind the fiction of C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian. James had the advantage of writing at the time of the events he describes so well, and wrote hundreds of letters to survivors of the wars at sea, as well as scrutinising every despatch, ship's log, foreign report and private narrative that he could lay his hands on. 'Never,' wrote the 'Fortnightly Review', 'was there a man more painstaking, more indefatigable, more scrupulously conscientious.' Vol. I (1793-96) gives a brief history of the Royal Navy from 1488 until 1793 and the outbreak of the first war with Revolutionary France when the main narrative begins with Lord Howe's operations at Toulon, his victory on the 'Glorious 1st June' and the capture of French islands in the West Indies. Vol II (1797-1800) covers Lord Hood's victory at the battle of Cape St Vincent and Nelson's triumph at the Nile. Vol III covers the Battle of Copenhagen and concludes with Nelson's great victory and death at Trafalgar. Vol IV (1805-1809) concentrates on Vice-Admiral Colloingwood's post-Trafalgar operations and the actions of Sir Richard Strachan, and Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge. Vol V ( 1809-1813) looks at actions in the Dutch East Indies and the 1812 War with the United States. Finally, Vol VI (1813-1827) wraps up the Napoleonic Wars by examining the war at sea during Napoleon's 100 days campaign which ended at Waterloo, and the exploits of Admiral Duncan. Illustrated with charts, diagrams, and frontispiece engravings of famous Admirals, this is quite simply the definitive account of the Napoleonic Wars at sea, finally back in print.
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