Archive for the ‘Primary Sources’ Category

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)

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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.

Online Primary Sources: The United States Navy in World War 1

March 17, 2017

These documents range from personal narratives to official compilations of naval laws and resolutions. It is by no means complete, but the list does offer good examples of the literature associated with the maritime aspects of the Great War.

Our navy at war (1916); United States submarine chasers in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and the attack on Durazzo (1920); The war with Germany; a statistical summary (1919, although this work is from the American perspective, beginning on page 137 are “international comparisons”); Beatty, Jellicoe, Sims and Rodman; Yankee Gobs and British Tars as seen by an “Anglomanic,” (1919); The victory at sea (1920, written by the commander of American naval forces in Europe); Being the “Log” of the U.S.S. Maui in the World War (1919?, written by some of the crew of this troopship); 70,000 miles on a submarine destroyer; or, The Reid boat in the world war (1919, written by a crew member); The cruise of the U. S. S. Sacramento  (1919, written by crew members); History of the U.S.S. Leviathan, Cruiser and Transport Forces, United States Atlantic Fleet (1919?, the ship’s “History Committee”); A history of the transport service; adventures and experiences of United States transports and cruisers in the World War (1921, by the admiral in charge of transport operations); German submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada (1920, official US SecNav report); Queenstown Patrol, 1917: A Diary… (1996); Account of the Operations of the American Navy in France During the War With Germany (1920, by the commander of naval forces in France); Digest Catalogue of Laws and Joint Resolutions: The Navy and the World War 1920); Lieutenant Picking’s Diary, May – June 1918 While Observing English and French Submarine Operations in the War Zone ; and World War I British and German Naval Messages (1920, deals with the armistice).

Some unique secondary sources: US Naval Forces in Northern Russia (Archangel and Murmansk), 1918-1919 (1943); US Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters, 1919-1924 (1943); US Naval Port Officers in the Bordeaux Region, 1917-1919 (1943);  American Naval Mission in the Adriatic, 1918-1921 (1943); and American Naval Participation in the Great War With Special Reference to the European Theater of Operations (1928, written by the pre-eminent naval historian Dudley Knox).

The French Version of Trafalgar

March 7, 2017

In an exercise worthy of the best of alternative history, the French scored a resounding victory over Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. A translated version of this account is found in volume 14 of the Naval Chronicle, commencing on page 377. (I was tempted to add the subject heading “naval fiction”, but I demurred.)

Annual Reports of the [U.S.] Secretary of the Navy

March 3, 2017

There are selected runs of this title (what adds to the confusion is that the title varies) that allow us to glimpse the workings of the US Navy from the early part of the 19th century into the 20th. The Annual reports of the Secretary of the Navy contains the volumes for 1821-1843; the Annual Reports of the Naval Department run from 1855 to 1932; and the Annual reports of the Navy Department. Report of the Secretary of the Navy. Miscellaneous reports covers the same time period. They are not just dry recitations but hold fascinating historical value; for example, the volume for 1823 details the Navy’s involvement in the suppression of the slave trade in Africa along with letters recounting the Navy’s role; the 1851 volume has a passing mention of the “disastrous” invasion of Cuba; and the 1917 tome discusses the Navy’s anti-submarine efforts.

Each volume is a goldmine of information: personnel statistics; funding; reports of the various departments within the Navy, including the Marines; and contemporary primary source documents, such as reports and letters.