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Book Review, NRJ 67.2

February 11, 2023 4:52 PM | PAUL R MITCHELL (Administrator)

From Across the Sea: North Americans in Nelson’s Navy

Edited by Sean M. Heuvel and John A. Rodgaard

The British Royal Navy was manned, during the period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, by officers and men from many parts of the world apart from Great Britain and the United Kingdom. This work throws light on the contributions of those born in North America and the Caribbean and includes biographical essays on examples from the lower deck as well as from the ranks of the officers of the fleet. Two of those ordinary or able seamen chosen for study, one of whom was a Native American, were born in the United States.

The opening sections offer us insights into the positions of the United States and Canada during the period of the Great War of 1793-1815 and the Anglo-American naval relationship at that time. It throws light too on both the myth and the reality of the fraught question of impressment and turns a particular spotlight on North Americans serving in Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar – there were over four hundred of them. The omission of studies of Ralph Miller and Benjamin Hallowell (apart from the briefest of mentions) is, perhaps, unfortunate; both were loyalist American commanders included in Nelson’s ‘Band of Brothers’, originally comprising the captains of the fleet he commanded at the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir Bay. But the variety of the other candidates chosen will not disappoint.

The contributory essays making up the book are studies by a number of eminent authorities from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, including such well-known authors and naval historians as John B. Hattendorf and Andrew Lambert. With writers of this caliber involved, the book is an excellent and compelling read as well as being fascinating in its content. From Across the Sea will, of course, be of particular interest to American and Canadian readers, but will also be so to any student of the history of the British Royal Navy of the period.

  • Warwick: Helion & Company 2020
  • Distributed in the United States by Casemate Publishers
  • 9-14” x 6-1’4”, softcover, 311 pages
  • Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $34.95
  • ISBN: 9781913118921

Reviewed by: Roger Marsh, Killaloe. Ireland

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