Mutinies During the 1790s – 1840s

May 21, 2019

This special issue of the International Journal of Social History, 58( Special issue 21, December 2013) – Mutiny and Maritime Radicalism in the Age of Revolution: A Global Survey – is the result of two major conferences on these topics. Articles discuss the mutinies that spread through the European navies (both single ship and fleet) during the 1790s as well as the Amistad rebellion, mutiny in South African waters, the Lascar mutiny, and others that occurred during this time period. Replete with notes, these articles present a depiction of activities that were just not limited to western Europe but form part of a global movement.


Online Primary Sources: Matthew Flinders

May 16, 2019

If one looks at the Gazetteer of Australia and inputs the term “Flinders”, you are greeted by hundreds of place names from Cape Flinders to Flinders Bay to Flinders Island. What could be the reason for this multitudinous proliferation of this name? Could it be that they are all in honor of Captain Matthew Flinders, the Royal Navy officer who circumnavigated Australia while simultaneously charting and describing the land and its flora and fauna?

He had a remarkable, but short, life; he lived long enough to see his major work published before he died.

Some of his extraordinarily detailed maps (or maps based on his observations) can be found here. His magnum opus – A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814) – volume 1 and volume 2is online. Other published material include Observations upon the Marine Barometer, made during the Examination of the Coasts of New Holland and New South Wales, in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, Philosophical Transactions, 96(1806): 239-266, and his biography of his beloved cat Trim – A biographical tribute to the memory of Trim(1804).

The Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 3(1895) -7(1901),  provide a rich contextual background of official documents and sources detailing Flinders’ actions.

The Flinders Papers are an absolute treasure trove of missives between Flinders and other luminaries of the day, such as Joseph Banks. The glossaries themselves are well-researched and by themselves prove to be a valuable tools. This is a site built with love and affection for this individual.

Sir Edward Scott’s The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders (1914), besides being based on primary/archival sources, also has a list starting on p. 465 of all the names Flinders gave to Australian coastal features.

His biographical memoir can be located in The Naval Chronicle, 32(July – December, 1814):177-191.

Commissioned paintings of his exploits along with additional Flinders-related objects, such as his sea chest, can be found here.

The Last of the Great Sailing Ships

April 16, 2019

The Dyal Sailing Ships Collection, 1870-1920 contains images and, in certain cases, brief narratives of the large sailing ships that still populated the oceans at this time, even as stream-driven technology had put an end to these wind-driven vessels. It is an elegiac presentation of how these majestic ships spent their last days. A sobering read.

World War II Royal Navy Interviews

April 11, 2019

This BBC site contains over 2500 interviews with those who served in the Royal Navy in its various theaters of operations. This feature also houses hundreds of relevant photographs. Reminiscences range from a commanding officer of an MTB to the sinking of the Scharnhorst. You can positively smell the sea in these stories!

Biographies of Early Sailors to Australia

March 18, 2019

This inelegantly-titled blog entry points you, gentle reader, to the ongoing biographical project known as the Australian Dictionary of Biography. The biographies, ranging up to 6,000 words for pre-eminent Australian figures, are mostly authored by academics, supplemented with trustworthy sources, and checked for veracity by a board of editors. More than 12,000 individuals are presented in this continuing undertaking.

By utilizing the available search options, one can call up a list of Dutch, French, and British sailors and explorers who first made landfall on this continent. Trying to find, accurate, current, English-language life stories can prove to be difficult, especially for the Dutch mariners. (Point of transparency – I am an academic librarian of forty years standing who does not consider Wikipedia the ultimate go-to source.) Where possible, a picture accompanies the entry along with suggestions for further reading, links to other related biographies, and active occupations links that further enhance your research. The above list was generated by utilizing the term “sailor”; however, other biographies can be found by the terms such as “shipmaster”, “seaman”, “mariner”, or “harbor master”.

For those sailors who have made an impact in more than one area of the world, it is an interesting exercise to read competing biographies to find where the natural emphases are. For example, here is the treatment for James Cook for this work, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and the Dictionary of National Biography.

What Do the South China Sea and the Hunt for the Bismarck Have in Common?

March 14, 2019

They are both separate subjects of extended, well- researched articles in the latest issue of Naval War College Review (72, #1 Winter 2019).

The first article – China’s Global Naval Strategy and Expanding Force Structure – highlights China’s continuing development of its navy and its projection of this force into the Pacific arena. A previous post points to a valuable document outlining the problems that currently face this county as China continues to build both military and economic strengths (think Belt and Road). Figures, exhibits, and copious notes lend credibility and veracity to this article.

The second article – Operation Rhine Exercise, May 18-27, 1941 – concentrates on one of the largest fleet to fleet operations in the ETO. Using printed and archival sources, the author deftly weaves an analysis of this operation, showing that the risk of detailing so many ships to pursue the Bismarck was ultimately worth the gamble. I have included here the War Diary of the Commander U-Boats concerning the sinking of this fast battleship.

Maritime Watercolors

March 13, 2019

Embedded within this glorious site containing over 80,000 watercolors from private and public collections, some of which have never been seen before, is a section entitled Seas & Oceans that numbers over 1600 items; another is Ships with over 4000 illustrations. And as this site promises to grow, this maritime section should also increase in size. But you needn’t limit yourself to the above sections; there is a search option that allows you to utilize keywords and filters to tease out additional maritime-related watercolors not included in the above sections. Each watercolor lists the artist and a description of the work in question. A great resource of pre-20th century art that deserves your attention.

Maritime History Videos

March 8, 2019

Well researched and deftly presented, this series of videos covers a wide variety of topics from the Dutch invading the Medway to Martin Frobisher. As someone who appreciates accurate historical research, these presentations are definitely worth a view.

Hundreds of Volumes on British Naval History

March 6, 2019

You can come here for a great number of works dealing with Great Britain and her navy.

Volumes on United States Naval History

February 27, 2019

Dozens and dozens of monographs are freely available online; this list is certainly worth a perusal.