Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century
Title Details

17th May 2019

272 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

7 b/w. 39 line. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press

Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century

The Art of Sailing Warfare

by Sam Willis

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Naval warfare is vividly brought to life, from first contact through how battles were won and lost to damage repair.
Our understanding of warfare at sea in the eighteenth century has always been divorced from the practical realities of fighting at sea under sail; our knowledge of tactics is largely based upon the ideas of contemporary theorists[rather than practitioners] who knew little of the realities of sailing warfare, and our knowledge of command is similarly flawed. In this book the author presents new evidence from contemporary sources that overturns many old assumptions and introduces a host of new ideas. In a series of thematic chapters, following the rough chronology of a sea fight from initial contact to damage repair, the author offers a dramatic interpretation of fighting at sea inthe eighteenth century, and explains in greater depth than ever before how and why sea battles (including Trafalgar) were won and lost in the great Age of Sail. He explains in detail how two ships or fleets identified each other to be enemies; how and why they manoeuvred for battle; how a commander communicated his ideas, and how and why his subordinates acted in the way that they did.

SAM WILLIS has lectured at Bristol University and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He is also the author of Fighting Ships, 1750-1850(Quercus).
Introduction
Contact
Chase and Escape I: Speed and Performance
Chase and Escape II: The Tactics of Chasing
Station Keeping
Communication
Unwritten Rules
Command
The Weather Gage
Fleet Tactics
Fighting Tactics
Damage
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index
"Will become widely read by students and academics of the subject, in addition to those who are fascinated by the literary world of Hornblower or Aubrey." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY
"A very valuable addition to the extensive literature on naval warfare in the age of sail, looking at a neglected topic. The events of individual battles have been extensively discussed, as have the technical aspects of ship construction, but this book fills the crucial gap between those two, and greatly expands our knowledge of the practicalities of naval warfare in this period." HISTORY OF WAR.ORG
"Is sure to become the standard reference on naval tactics in the Napoleonic era [and] is enthusiastically recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in this aspect of naval history." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY
"As a reference work for what these ships were like, how they handled at sea, and how naval officers sought to capitalize on these material constraints for both offensive and defensive purposes, Fighting at Sea is not likely to be surpassed any time soon." JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES
"An excellent historical handbook with much to tell modern readers about military command. Highly recommended." CHOICE
"[A] superbly researched book [which] contains high-quality maps, many excellent illustrations, and an essential glossary, all of which give a better understanding of Willis's argument." UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE
"A detailed historical study based on extensive research." .
"When it comes to discussing shiphandling Willis is peerless. Not a page is wasted and virtually everything he writes is fascinating and provocative. This is indeed a wonderful book. Anyone interested in warships should have it on his or her bookshelf for frequent consultation." NORTHERN MARINER
"A clear and well-documented account." SEA HISTORY
"By emphasising the critical role of practical seamanship and unwritten rules, this book offers students of the subject a new angle on an old subject." MILITARY HISTORY
"An insightful analysis of the practical realities of sailing warfare that probes deeply into the technical skills, written and unwritten rules, command and control necessary for the Royal Navy's century of unrivalled success in naval combat." NAUTICAL RESEARCH JOURNAL
"An illuminating read." SKIRMISH, October 2008

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Title Details

17th May 2019

272 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

7 b/w. 39 line. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press