Archive for the ‘Naval History’ Category

Birth of the British Navy

January 11, 2018

The only monarch labeled “the Great”, Alfred was instrumental in having constructed some of the largest oared vessels of his day. Please read the entry for the year 897 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. John Asser’s contemporary biography of Alfred bears testimony to Alfred’s use of ships in his various battles with the Danes.

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How Admiral Nelson Really Looked

December 13, 2017

Most depictions of Admiral Nelson reflect an idealistic image of Great Britain’s leading sailor; the toll that his wounds took on him are almost always glossed over. A newly restored portrait shows what the rigors of war wreaked upon his visage; it is a sobering realization.

Nautical Charts

December 6, 2017

Did you ever wonder what resources mariners could consult in the days of sail? The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is a boon to researchers; it carries over 81,000 maps, charts, atlases many of which are available online. For example, limit yourself to the “nautical charts” category, and there are more than 1,000 examples available. But you can further limit your results to the granular level by selecting “where” (geographical location), “who”(cartographer), or “when” (by year). By this method you can find 38 charts or maps of the Caribbean dating from 1650 to 1846. So the next time Hornblower, or Kydd, or Aubrey sail to a certain part of the world, you can see what contemporary sources of the time revealed about it.

Search Thousands of Open Access Articles and Book Chapters on Matters Nautical

November 30, 2017

JSTOR is an aggregator of almost 2000 scholarly titles, containing back runs of major journals in fifty separate disciplines; it recently added thousands of books to its coverage as well. Marketed to libraries as a way to save space by having huge back runs of bound volumes replaced by online, digital equivalents, it is an expensive tool,  but one that has great value.

But JSTOR has an open content site that really needs to be explored by those interested in maritime studies. For example, entering the term “frigates” pulls up a vast array of literature, including a 1756 piece on sea currents; entering “James Cook” allows you to read his articles published in the Philosophical Transactions, works about him, and works that mention him in passing. Any term you can think of will probably yield some results; i.e., “whaling ships”, “navies”, “seas” all produce hits.

While not the most robust of search interfaces (after all, this is free), you can sort the results by relevance, oldest, or newest. In addition, you can limit your results to content type, publication date, or subject.

This tool is well worth an investigation; hundreds of thousands of articles, some dating back to the 17th century, await your perusal.

Writings of Admiral Samuel Hood

October 11, 2017

Admiral Hood had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy, but few of his writings are publicly available. His autobiography (including some correspondence) is contained on pages 1-37 of volume 17 of the Naval Chronicle, and there was an edition of his letters – Letters written by Sir Samuel Hood (Viscount Hood) in 1781-2-3, illustrated by extracts from logs and public records – published in 1895. In addition, scattered official letters from earlier times can be found in Letters to the ministry, from Governor Bernard, General Gage, and Commodore Hood (1769).

However, a new major project – Georgian Papers Online – has uncovered many more letters by this worthy. Identified as Letters from Rear-Adm. Sir Samuel (later Lord) Hood to General Jacob de Budé, including some copies of related correspondence to and from Hood, this source contains writings to and from Hood that have never been available before. While the documents themselves are in various hands, the full descriptions of each letter, as well as transcriptions in some cases, allow the reader to fully appreciate these missives.

 

History of the German Navy, 1848 to 2016

October 4, 2017

In the most recent issue of Naval War College Review, you will find German Navies from 1848 to 2016.

U.S. Coast Guard’s Need for New Cutters

September 27, 2017

That the Coast Guard has an aging fleet is not to be denied; a unique needs cutter built in 1944 was taken out of service in 2011. A history of the procurement of cutters, funding, and Congressional options are all explained in this recent CRS report – Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. And this at a time when the Coast Guard, for the second year in a row, has interdicted a record amount of cocaine.

 

“The Explosion of the Spanish Battleship during the Battle of Gibraltar”

September 13, 2017

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This remarkable painting memorializes the Dutch victory over the Spanish fleet in 1607; the entire Spanish fleet engaged in the battle was destroyed along with 2,000 – 4,000 men. Details of this painting can be seen in a series of pictures found here.

The First Pacific Voyages

September 6, 2017

This 1990 monograph – Background To Discovery: Pacific Exploration from Dampier to Cook – explores the first English and French incursions into the area. Editor Derek Howse has assembled a first-rate team of authors to tell the tales of that era, supplemented by informative notes and explanations.

Histories of the U.S. Marine Corps

August 30, 2017

This site contains numerous online publications ranging from general histories to unit histories to bibliographies, and finding aids. Whole sections are devoted to either individual conflicts or time periods. The occasional primary source, such as journals, do make an appearance.