Archive for the ‘Primary Sources’ Category

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.

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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.

The Funeral of Lord Nelson

October 12, 2017

The hearse carrying Lord Nelson’s coffin is seen below in an 1806 aquatint. Contemporary accounts of the funeral can be found in: Fairburn’s (2nd) edition of the funeral of admiral lord Nelson (1806); [London] Gazette, January 14, 1806; Monthly Mirror, January 1806; and more depictions of the funeral.

(The Funeral Car of our late Vice Admiral  Horatio Viscount Nelson)

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.

 

“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.

U.S. Naval Strategies in the Late 1900s

August 16, 2017

Here are some relevant documents from the Newport Papers series:  U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1970s: Selected Documents; U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1980s: Selected Documents; and U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1990s: Selected Documents.

The Literature of the Sea

May 22, 2017

Such a topic as the above is featured in volume 4 of the inestimable Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Although the eighteen-volume compendium is indeed dated, it still provides valuable background on numerous topics, including maritime writing, in this case from early writers to Hakluyt. The chapter following this is entitled Seafaring and Travel. Both come with substantial bibliographies of primary sources. Searching this multi-volume work for entries such as “sea” or “maritime” yields additional information.

Great Yarmouth in the 19th Century

March 29, 2017

Great Yarmouth was the staging area for the North Sea fleet as well as the jumping off point for the invasion of Denmark during the Napoleonic Wars. Here are several descriptions of the area from 19th century sources:

An Historical guide to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk with the most remarkable events recorded of that town. (2d ed, 1817) by George Manby.

Picture of Yarmouth….(1819)

Historical and Topographical Notices of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, and Its Environs  (1826).

Pictorial Guide to Great Yarmouth (1854)

The History of Great Yarmouth (1856) [This is a continuation of The History of Great Yarmouth that was published in 1854 and concerns the earlier years of this area.]

Terms of Naval Armistice That Ended World War 1

March 22, 2017

The full text of the document is here; in it are listed the names of the interned High Seas Fleet ships.