By Sam Willis
The maximum victories from the British Navy’s golden age, advised via never-before-seen letters from the officials themselves.
whilst Napoleon ultimately died in exile, the Lords of the Admiralty ordered that the unique dispatches from seven significant fleet battles―The excellent First of June (1794), St Vincent (1797), Camperdown (1797), The Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Trafalgar (1805), and San Domingo (1806)―should be accrued jointly and awarded to the country. those letters, written by way of Britain’s admirals, captains, surgeons, and boatswains and despatched again domestic in the course of clash, have been certain in a big quantity, to be in demand as a jewel of British history.
Sam Willis, one among Britain's best naval historians, came across this assortment by accident within the British Library in 2010 and shortly stumbled on that just a handful of individuals knew of its lifestyles. Willis right here shapes that fabric into incredible personality pictures of the commanders on either side, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. He additionally offers concise and illuminating reasons of the convoluted political conditions surrounding every one conflict as he expertly reinterprets those key engagements in impressive and revelatory detail.
A superbly illustrated dramatic narrative, In the Hour of Victory tells the tale of those naval triumphs as by no means prior to and permits us to listen to once again the officer’s voices as they describe the battles that made Britain great.
forty illustrations, 2/c all through with eight pages of colour
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Additional resources for In the Hour of Victory: The Royal Navy at War in the Age of Nelson
It's very unlikely to learn the dispatches with out changing into quickly and aware of the personalities of these composing them, if in simple terms from their handwriting. have you written a letter on board a boat? you predict it to be a regular adventure however it isn't really; it really is terribly varied. On a pitching or rolling send, writing will be disorientating. To bend low and concentrate on a unmarried aspect is to render oneself at risk of the dizziness of sea-sickness whereas the flow of the table could make the cautious formation of letters a different problem. The tails of letters can by surprise shoot off in unforeseen instructions; ‘o’s can simply develop into lozenge-shaped or perhaps triangular; ‘i’s can develop into ‘u’s; ‘v’s can turn into ‘n’s; ‘m’s so simply rework into ‘w’s. occasionally, even though, the ocean is so calm that you may be writing at a table in a library. The writing expertise of the age additionally inspired style. If the nib of a quill is lower too thickly, the ink swimming pools and dribbles; minimize it too thinly and it fades and dries up mid-sentence, simply because it regularly will with an outdated or brittle nib. Then, after all, there's the handwriting kind of each one guy with which to contend. occasionally we see the unmistakable flowing hand of a proficient secretary. At others now we have a sequence of sharp, fierce darts and jabs with the nib, the writing of an exhausted, under pressure guy. a few handwriting, Hyde Parker’s specifically (p. 218), is only legible, as not easy for us now because it should have been for the employees of the Admiralty then. think receiving a highly major letter and being not able to learn it. Mode of expression and grammar additionally diversified enormously. so much correspondents have been long-winded, within the sort of the time, yet a few, like Howe, have been way more long-winded than others. Others, like Duckworth, even turned fullyyt misplaced of their personal rambling syntax. many of the admirals’ letters describing battles have been released, both within the modern press or thus in collections of correspondence, yet they have been frequently edited, sometimes seriously, to cause them to extra readable and, every so often, comprehensible. nine to return to the originals for this reason bargains us invaluable insights into the boys who wrote them. a few, like Nelson and Collingwood, have been proficient wordsmiths; others, like Duncan, have been males of deeds and never phrases. a few, like Hyde Parker, have been sincerely no longer at domestic with the actual paintings of writing in any respect and a few, like Howe and Duckworth, solely lacked the psychological agility and self-discipline required for concise self-expression in a written shape. Their dispatches inevitably mirror their personalities. Howe’s textual content is long and rambling; St Vincent’s cautious and transparent. Duncan’s is rushed and excited; Nelson’s evocative and beneficiant. Hyde Parker’s is imprecise and uninformative; Collingwood’s sombre and dignified and Duckworth’s vigorous and unctuous. in simple terms the final in their letters follows any general shape: all finish with the typical ‘Your obedient and humble servant’, even supposing a few admirals undertake a very grovelling or self-satisfied tone and are cautious to make it transparent that they're ‘the such a lot obedient’ or ‘very humble’.