HMS Bellerophon

B2023

The “Billy Ruffian” should have been one of the most famous Royal Navy warships of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. She will be known to enthusiasts and most probably for one of the simplest voyages she ever made, carrying Napoleon into exile following his defeat. The author has set out to redress this lack of knowledge with a fine account of a fine ship that served through the wars with Revolutionary France and then with Napoleon, covering the period form 1793-1815. She was present at some of the epic battles, including the great victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. This is a book that every enthusiast for the period and the war at sea, but it is also a fine account of long and dedicated service that must reach a wider readership.

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NAME: HMS Bellerophon
DATE: 190914
FILE: R2023
AUTHOR: Colin Pengelly
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 303
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Wooden Walls, Nelson’s Navy, line of battle ships, 74 guns, sailing Navy, Trafalgar, Nile, blockage, Imperial Navy.
ISBN: 1-78346-240-X
IMAGE: B2023.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/kul272o
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The “Billy Ruffian” should have been one of the most famous Royal Navy warships of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. She will be known to enthusiasts and most probably for one of the simplest voyages she ever made, carrying Napoleon into exile following his defeat. The author has set out to redress this lack of knowledge with a fine account of a fine ship that served through the wars with Revolutionary France and then with Napoleon, covering the period form 1793-1815. She was present at some of the epic battles, including the great victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. This is a book that every enthusiast for the period and the war at sea will want to add to their library, but it is also a fine account of long and dedicated service that must reach a wider readership.

HMS Bellerophon was a standard line of battle ship of the period. Mounting 74 guns, she was a typical Wooden Wall of Nelson’s Navy. Bellerophon saw extensive service across the range of duties during the period. Much of the service was on blockade, which could be tedious duty, but she saw much close combat with the enemy. She was present at the Battle of the Nile which destroyed Napoleon’s attempts to seize control of the Middle East and India. To be in the line of battle at Trafalgar was a savoured honour for any Royal Navy warship.

She sailed the oceans, from the Channel and the North Sea, to the Mediterranean and the West Indies. As with many of Nelson’s ships, the Billy Ruffian was built at Chatham and the author has given a good account of her design and construction. Sadly, Britain did not think to deliberately preserve its most famous warships. Even the Victory came close to being scrapped on several occasions. Napoleonic War vessels did continue in some form of service beyond 1815. The larger vessels were frequently used as hulks, accommodating young seamen, prisoners of war, or convicts due for deportation to the colonies. Some became breakwaters and others were moored in creeks along the Essex coast as watch points. It was a sad end to vessels that had served their country and proved the pivotal point of the wars, ensuring British victory.

The book contains a great deal of fine detail, without becoming boring to the less enthusiastic reader. The author’s style is easy to read and the small photoplate section contains a good selection of images. There is a very good index and an appendix section that includes a handy glossary.

Although the subject is HMS Bellerophon, the author has painted a convincing picture of the Royal Navy through the period. The Seven Years War may have been the point when Britain achieved naval dominance, but the period from 1793 to 1805 was the point where that dominance was affirmed and then held for a hundred years. The war at sea continued right up to the end of the wars in 1815, but there was no question that the Royal Navy was supreme at sea, maintaining a blockade on Napoleonic Europe and ensuring eventual total victory. Without that position, the dash for Empire could not have taken place, and a long period of relative peace maintained.

Read this book and understand what Napoleon came to appreciate on his voyage into exile as a passenger on the Billy Ruffian.

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