Nelson’s Mediterranean Command

B2161

The author has covered the most dramatic period of British naval history. It was a period of enormous risk and one that represented one of the most dangerous eras of British history. Britain had been ill-prepared for the French Revolution and its implications for British security. The Royal Navy had established supremacy during the Seven Years War when it gained the initiative over the French at sea. However, the RN and its ships had been neglected in the intervening years, requiring old ships to be brought into service, or uprated, and led to the Press Gang becoming the scourge of civilians, as the Navy increased its manpower. In 1798, Napoleon had risen to power in France and become the major force in Europe. The author has captured the period well and provided a gripping account of the political processes in London as senior military figures manoevered for the prime commands. In this environment, the elevation of Nelson to command in the critical Mediterranean theatre seemed an unlikely choice and certainly a controversial decision that led to a challenge to duel, the King’s intervention, and, eventually, to Nelson’s outstanding victories. A book well worth reading by those interested in any or all of: Nelson; Napoleonic Wars; politics; British history; war at sea; wooden warships; naval tactics; Royal Navy, and; the basis for Empire.

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NAME: Nelson’s Mediterranean Command
DATE: 180315
FILE: R2161
AUTHOR: Denis Orde
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 228
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Nelson, Mediterranean, naval warfare, Napoleonic Wars, Egypt, Battle of Nice, blockade, sailing ships, Wooden Walls
ISBN: 1-78346-290-6
IMAGE: B2161.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mcctovk
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author has covered the most dramatic period of British naval history. It was a period of enormous risk and one that represented one of the most dangerous eras of British history. Britain had been ill-prepared for the French Revolution and its implications for British security. The Royal Navy had established supremacy during the Seven Years War when it gained the initiative over the French at sea. However, the RN and its ships had been neglected in the intervening years, requiring old ships to be brought into service, or uprated, and led to the Press Gang becoming the scourge of civilians, as the Navy increased its manpower. In 1798, Napoleon had risen to power in France and become the major force in Europe. The author has captured the period well and provided a gripping account of the political processes in London as senior military figures manoevered for the prime commands. In this environment, the elevation of Nelson to command in the critical Mediterranean theatre seemed an unlikely choice and certainly a controversial decision that led to a challenge to duel, the King’s intervention, and, eventually, to Nelson’s outstanding victories. A book well worth reading by those interested in any or all of: Nelson; Napoleonic Wars; politics; British history; war at sea; wooden warships; naval tactics; Royal Navy, and; the basis for Empire.

The text is very readable and there are some single colour illustrations through the body of the book. Nelson became one of the greatest commanders at the Battle of Trafalgar. He also had the good fortune to die on HMS Victory in the moment of his greatest victory, which cemented his place in history and in international regard. He is one British commander who is almost universally known in Britain and across the world. On that iconic position, it is easy to see why so many regard his accession to command and triumph over the enemy as a natural process beyond any question. The really is, as so often in history, somewhat different. In many respects, Nelson was an unlikely naval commander when he first went to sea as a boy. From an unremarkable North Norfolk background, Nelson became a Midshipman and then began to work his way up the chain of command. He was not a robust giant as his friend and Trafalgar Flag Captain, Admiral Hardy. He was not a natural sailor, and he faced a series of damaging situations that result in the loss of eye and limb. What he did hold was an incisive mind and natural leadership that endeared him to fellow officers and men. He established a reputation for taking risks and ignoring orders that would have constrained his actions. These features may have endeared him to people in his command, but they did not endear him to more senior commanders and those who were competing with him for advancement.

When Nelson was selected to command in the Mediterranean at a time when Napoleon had assembled a huge army, that might be intended to invade England, a number of his peers were unhappy because they had hoped to be selected. In particular an acrimonious relationship developed between Nelson and Sir John Orde, leading to infighting and rivalry and Orde went as far as to challenge Nelson to a dual, prevented only by the King’s personal intervention.

The author has obviously conducted thorough research and shows the conflict within the upper levels of the Royal Navy. This is a book in the best traditions of maritime history and is both informative and enjoyable.

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