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The 50 years before the American Civil War saw a boom in the construction of coastal forts in the United States of America. These stone and brick forts stretched from New England to the Florida Keys, and as far as the Mississippi River. At the start of the war some were located in the secessionist states, and many fell into Confederate hands. Although a handful of key sites remained in Union hands throughout the war, the remainder had to be won back through bombardment or assault. This book examines the design, construction and operational history of those fortifications, such as Fort Sumter, Fort Morgan and Fort Pulaski, which played a crucial part in the course of the Civil War.
The breakout of the German battleship Bismarck into the North Atlantic in May 1941 was one of the most dramatic naval episodes of World War II (1939-1945). It took place at a time when the resources of the Royal Navy were stretched thinly, and the British Home Fleet were hard pressed to counter this powerful German warship, which was vaunted as the most powerful battleship in the world. For nine days she became the most sought-after vessel afloat, as the Home Fleet and Force H, based in Gibraltar, combed the seas in search of her. After days of fruitless searching, the lone German warship was spotted by a reconnaissance aircraft some 300 miles to the south-west of Ireland. Admiral Tovey, who commanded the Home Fleet from his flagship HMS Rodney ordered his warships to intercept her, and a great naval race began, with the Bismarck speeding towards the safety of the French ports, and the British doing their utmost to stop her.Despite overwhelming odds, with most Home Fleet craft too far away to intercept the German ship's flight to France, the Royal Navy ultimately managed to locate, damage and ultimately sink the great German battleship. In this new addition to Osprey's Campaign series, author Angus Konstam sheds new light on this race-to-the-finish, detailing the original plans, the British efforts to locate and damage the Bismarck, the Bismarck's extensive armor systems and her ultimate defeat in a highly illustrated format.
In April 1713 the War of the Spanish Succession came to an end. During the conflict hundreds of privateers - licenced pirates - preyed on enemy shipping throughout the Caribbean. These privateers now found themselves out of a job, and many turned to piracy. One of theme was Edward Teach - more popularly known as "Blackbeard". He joined the pirates in New Providence (now Nassau) in the Bahamas, and by early 1717 he had become a pirate captain. From then on he caused havoc off the North American seaboard, in the West Indies and off Honduras, before appearing off Charleston, South Carolina in May 1718. He blockaded this major port for a week, an act that made Blackbeard the most notorious pirate of his day. He then "downsized" - deliberately running his flagship aground near Beaufort, North Carolina, before sailing north in a small sloop to seek a pardon from the colony's governor, Charles Eden. For late June onwards, Blackbeard lived in the colony's tiny capital of Bath Town, and pretended to have turned his changed his ways. However, he also established a den on nearby Ocracoke Island in North Carolina's outer banks, and used this as a base for pirate forays into the waters of the Virginia and Delaware. He then used Bath Town as a clearing house for his plunder.In the neighbouring colony of Virginia, Governor Alexander Spotswood decided to take action. Two British warships were anchored in Virginia's James River, and he and their captains began planning a raid - an attack designed to deal with Blackbeard once and all. In November 1718 Lieutenant Maynard was sent south down the coast with two hired sloops, and orders to seek out and destroy Blackbeard's sloop, the Adventure. At the same time a land expedition was mounted, led by Captain Brandt of the Royal Navy. His men "invaded" North Carolina, and marched on Bath Town, hoping to corner the pirates and capture their stockpile of plunder. On Friday 22nd November the sloops Ranger and Jane rounded Ocracoke Island, and attacked the Adventure. In the small but hard-fought action that followed Blackbeard's vessel was boarded, and the pirate captain was slain. While Maynard sailed home to Virginia with Blackbeard's severed head hanging from his bowsprit, Captain Brandt seized Bath Town, captured what pirates still remained at large, and then headed back in triumph to Williamsburg with his prisoners. Most of them would be hanged before the year was out. The attack on Blackbeard's lair was the largest anti-piracy operation of the "Golden Age of Piracy", and a textbook example of how to deal with the scourge of piracy.
In August 1917, at the height of the First World War, a small biplane landed on the makeshift flight deck of HMS Furious - the first ever carrier landing in aviation history. This small act ushered in a new era. Two decades later, when Britain stood on the brink of another World War, the Royal Navy had a small fleet of aircraft carriers, with several more nearing completion. When war came the newly-formed Fleet Air Arm would demonstrate that what it lacked in modern equipment, it made up for in skill and daring. The first of these carriers were converted from existing ships. Then in 1938 HMS Ark Royal was launched - Britain's first purpose built carrier. Its design set the standard for what was to come. The "Ark" was followed by the highly successful Illustrious Class, and then by others whose design was modified in the light of wartime experience. British fleet carriers had steel flight decks, and although smaller and able to carry less aircraft that the carriers seen in the Pacific, they were better suited to conditions in European waters. It also meant they were more resilient, and could shrug off damage that would cripple their American counterparts. Over the next six years these British aircraft carriers would launch attacks against a major Italian naval base, attack the Italian battle fleet on the high seas, and cripple the Bismarck, so that the battleships of the Home Fleet could overtake her. They would also see service in every theatre of war, including the Pacific. Inevitably, their success came at a price. Courageous, Eagle and Ark Royal were torpedoed by U-Boats, Glorious was sunk by the guns of a German battlecruiser, and Hermes was lost to Japanese bombs. Most of the rest of the carrier fleet were damaged to some extent during their service lives, but they survived and kept on fighting.This New Vanguard title tells the story of these remarkable warships, and reveals the secrets of their design, how they operated, and above all, what they achieved.
The launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 changed the face of naval warfare. This revolutionary new battleship was in a league of her own, capable of taking on any two "pre-dreadnought" battleships in a straight fight. A naval arms race followed between Britain and Germany, as both countries hurriedly built a fleet of these powerful new warships. This race led inexorably to the outbreak of a world war. During World War I these dreadnoughts formed the backbone of the British Grand Fleet. In May 1916, these battleships put to sea to intercept their counterparts in the German High Seas fleet. The result was the battle of Jutland, a bruising high-stakes encounter where the design and construction of Britain's revolutionary new battleships was put to the test. The first half-dozen dreadnoughts were all improvements of the basic Dreadnought design, all carrying ten 12-inch guns. It was only in 1911, with the launch of HMS Neptune that the layout of this powerful armament was altered as a result of practical experience. Two more versions of the Neptune entered service later that same year. These nine improved dreadnoughts formed the core of the British High Seas Fleet. They would soon, however, be outclassed by a new breed of "super dreadnoughts", the subject of the second volume in this two-part story. While these new battleships carried larger 13.5-inch guns, they proved less successful as all-round battleships than their more lightly-armed predecessors. Naval architects were slowly learning that with modern battleships, design involved a compromise between firepower, protection and speed. One last 12-inch gun dreadnought entered service in 1914, when a seven turret battleship being built for the Turks was commandeered by the Royal Navy, and re-named HMS Agincourt. This New Vanguard title, the first of two covering these famous warships will uncover the full story of the British battleships of World War I. The book will look at their revolutionary design, the 12-inch guns that provided them with their firepower, and the way these guns were fired in anger.
With the outbreak of World War II, Britain's Royal Navy and her fleet of battleships would be at the forefront of her defence. Yet from a fleet of 12 battleships, ten were already over 20 years old, venerable veterans of World War I. Extensive modifications throughout the 1930s allowed these ships to perform a vital service throughout the six long years of conflict, and further improvements made during the course of the war enabled them to hold their own against their German and Italian counterparts. This title offers a comprehensive review of the development of these British battleships from their initial commissioning to their peacetime modifications and wartime service. Detailed descriptions of the main armament of each ship will offer further analysis of individual battleships' effectiveness, discussing how the guns were manned when engaging the enemy. Describing HMS Warspite during the battle of Matapan in 1941, the author details how this British battleship, together with other Royal Navy and Australian vessels, defeated the might of the Italian navy so that they never again threatened Allied fleets within the Mediterranean. With specially commissioned artwork and a dramatic retelling of key battleship engagements, this book will highlight what it was like on board for the sailors who risked their lives on the high seas.
The idea of a heavy cruiser emerged in the aftermath of the First World War, and was closely linked to the limits set by the inter-war Washington Treaty on naval armament. The pre-Great War concept of armoured cruisers had been abandoned, but in their stead the Admiralty saw a place for powerful cruisers, able to patrol the sea lanes of the British Empire, and which were well-enough armed that they could destroy enemy commerce cruisers of the kind used by the Germans in the last war.The result was a group of British warships which were collectively known as the "Washington Treaty Cruisers", which did everything the Admiralty wanted, but which fitted within the limits imposed by the Washington Treaty - an armament of 8-inch guns, and a displacement of less than 10,000 tons. These impressive cruisers were high-sided, spacious and stately - perfect peacetime ambassadors for British power. In war they also packed a considerable punch. While they all carried powerful 8-inch guns, they were also given an effective armoured belt, making them proof against any foreign cruisers then in service. During the Second World War the Royal Navy's thirteen heavy cruisers saw service in every theatre of war, whether taking part in major sea battles in the Mediterranean, delivering the coup de grace to the Bismarck in the North Atlantic, or enduring the unwanted attention of kamikaze pilots in the Pacific.
Cruisers became Britain's essential vessel for protecting battleships, carriers, and convoys versus Japanese, Italian, and Nazi German commerce raiders, submarines, aircraft, and destroyers. The light cruiser was a natural development of the sailing frigate - a fast multi-purpose warship that could patrol the sea lanes, protect convoys and scout for enemy battle fleets. By the inter-war period the need for this type of ship was even more important, given the increasing need for protection from aircraft, and the need to screen the fleet from submarines or destroyers. During the 1930's a new group of British light cruisers were commissioned, designed to replace an earlier generation of warships designed during the Great War. These new ships were sleek, fast, and relied on the 6-inch gun - a tried and tested weapon that combined hitting power with a high rate of fire. A second generation of light cruisers followed during the late 1930's, armed with twelve 6-inch guns apiece. One of these - HMS Belfast - is still afloat today. Finally the threat posed by German aircraft led to the conversion of some older warships into anti-aircraft cruisers - a stopgap measure until a new class of these powerful and much-needed warships entered service. By this time wartime experience had shown that the British light cruiser was one of the most versatile types of ship in the Royal Navy, able to protect other warships, bombard enemy shores, guard life-saving convoys and intercept and destroy enemy warships. These were truly the workhorses of the wartime Royal Navy. While the battleships and carriers grabbed the headlines, these sleek, elegant warships quietly got on with the job of securing control of the seas.From the Trade Paperback edition.
During World War II, few groups within the Royal Navy fought a harder, more intense war than the men of Coastal Forces. Their job was to operate the Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), Motor Launches (MLs) and Motor Gun Boats (MGBs) that protected coastal convoys, attacked enemy ones, and performed a myriad of duties, which include the dropping of agents and commandos on a hostile shore, raids on enemy ports, and near-suicidal attacks on larger enemy warships. While the MTBs were the "bombers", delivering their payload of high explosive torpedoes, the crew of the MGBs used their machine guns and small-calibre guns to sink, burn or destroy their enemy counterparts. For that reason they saw their frail, sleek craft as the "Spitfire of the Seas". Motor Gun Boats were similar to Motor Torpedo Boats, only their decks were crammed with as many guns as they could carry - and to man these weapons, they required a larger crew. During the early years of the war, they were used to counter the threat posed by German E-Boats in the English Channel, but by 1941 they were in use offensively, conducting sweeps along the enemy coast in search of prey. By 1942 British MGBs were seen in the Mediterranean, interdicting Axis supply routes to North Africa, and later supporting the Allied invasion forces as they landed in Sicily, Italy and the South of France. The majority of these small wooden craft were built in Britain by the British Power Boat Company or Fairmile Marine. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes, but in late 1942 the Fairmile "D" MGB made its appearance - a boat which would come to dominate coastal operations during the last years of the war. Known as "Dog Boats" by their crew, they were fast, powerful and versatile. By the end of the war, over 200 of these small boats had been built and they represented the pinnacle of wartime British motor boat design.This New Vanguard title tells the story of these fragile but deadly little warships.
This title tells the dramatic story of how the Royal Navy transformed ordinary citizens into first-rate and fearless sailors and navy personnel during World War II. It covers how they were recruited and trained, and how they endured life at sea in hostile waters, protecting convoys in the Atlantic, hunting submarines in the Mediterranean, and standing up to relentless air attacks in the Pacific. Told from the perspective of vivid first-hand accounts of life onboard, it reveals what it was like to be a sailor navigating, patrolling, and fighting in the largest theater of the war- the vast oceans.
In 1585, the English launched a pre-emptive strike against Spain, by attacking her New World colonies. Led by Sir Francis Drake, in command of 21 ships and 1,800 soldiers, the expedition struck first at the Canary Islands, then attacked the city of Santo Domingo and the treasure port of Cartagena. Frequently outnumbered, Drake's soldiers won an series of spectacular victories and, laden with treasure, sailed home to a hero's welcome.
By the Spring of 1781, the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) had dragged on for almost six years and the outcome still hung in the balance. When the British commander Lord Cornwallis launched his invasion of North Carolina in early 1781, his objective was to destroy General Nathaniel Greene's American army. At Guilford Courthouse on 15 March 1781 the two armies met. In a desperately hard-fought battle the small but professional British army succeeded in fighting its way through three separate lines of American troops - but at a dreadful cost. Cornwallis lost over a quarter of his command. When news of the 'victory' reached Britain, a politician remarked; 'Another such victory would ruin the British army'.
The most famous admiral in history, Horatio Nelson's string of naval victories helped secure Britain's place as the world's dominant maritime power, a position she held for more than a century after Nelson's death. A young officer during the American Revolution, Nelson rose to prominence during Britain's war with Revolutionary France, becoming a hero at the battle of Cape St. Vincent. He went on to win massive victories at the Nile and Copenhagen, before leading the British to their historic victory at Trafalgar in 1805. But, in that moment of his greatest glory, Nelson was struck down by a French sharpshooter. Today Nelson is revered as an almost mythical figure - a naval genius and a national hero. He was also a deeply flawed individual whose vanity, ego and private life all threatened to overshadow his immense abilities. This book reveals the real Nelson.From the Trade Paperback edition.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, is one of the great commanders of history. Using his great charm and diplomatic skills he was able to bind troops from various European states into a cohesive army that won a string of victories over the French armies of King Louis XIV, the first of which was perhaps his most spectacular triumph - the battle of Blenheim. Other great victories followed, but political and social turmoil proved harder opponents to defeat. This book provides a detailed look at the many highs and lows in the career of the most successful British general of his era.From the Trade Paperback edition.
At the start of the American Civil War, neither side had warships on the Mississippi River and in the first few months both sides scrambled to gather a flotilla, converting existing riverboats for naval use. These ships were transformed into powerful naval weapons despite a lack of resources, trained manpower and suitable vessels. The creation of a river fleet was a miracle of ingenuity, improvisation and logistics, particularly for the South. This title describes their design, development and operation throughout the American Civil War.
For armchair admirals, history buffs, and naval enthusiasts everywhere, A Naval Miscellany is an indispensable and entertaining collection of fascinating and often little-known facts, anecdotes, lists, curiosities and stories from our naval past. Forgotten heroes, amazing blunders, surprising trivia, and strange-but-true stories overlooked by historians - it is all here in a book that will enlighten and amaze even the most avid student of naval history.What was the Nelson touch? Who were the naval heroes of the ancient world, and the world's worst admirals? How do mines work? What is a two-ocean navy? How much did a midshipman get paid in the eighteenth century? What was the Anaconda plan, and what are the origins of sea shanties? Where are the biggest naval bases in the world today? How significant was the use of torpedoes in the American Civil War? When did women first serve at sea? And how does a ship float? Open this book anywhere and you'll find yourself instantly captivated. From flogging, sodomy and the lash, to naval medicine in the age of sail; from hidden facts about Pearl Harbor to how to navigate by the stars; from tales of shipwrecked sailors and castaways to inside a nuclear submarine; from roundshot, grapeshot and chainshot to pirate hunters; from ships' pets and mascots, to keelhauling and hanging by the yardarm; from wooden legs and one-eyed cooks to naval superstitions; and from mutinies and a buffer's guide to naval acronyms to Donald Duck and the war effort. There is plenty of fascinating sea lore here - from the monumental to the trivial - plus the low-down on different types of warship and profiles of fighting admirals throughout history. This work takes up where ordinary naval history books leave off.
This book describes the life of a pirate of the early 18th century - the heyday of the 'Golden Age of Piracy'. It charts the way these men (and a few women) were recruited, how they operated, what they looked like and what their prospects were. In the process the book attempts to strip away many of the myths associated with piracy, to reveal the harsh realities of life beyond the normal bounds of society. The book draws on decades of research into the subject, and pulls together information from a myriad of sources, including official reports, contemporary newspaper reports, trial proceedings and court testimony, last words on the scaffold, letters, diaries and period scandal sheets. Other sources include archaeological evidence, and relevant objects and artefacts from museum collections on both sides of the Atlantic. In other words the book will reflect the last word in pirate research, making it beneficial to both the serious pirate historian and the novice apprentice.From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book gives an accurate picture of the pirates who sailed in the waters of the Caribbean and off the American coastline during the 'golden age' of piracy between 1660 and 1730. It traces the origins of piratical activity in the 16th century and examines the Boucaneer (Buccaneer) culture in Jamaica and Hispaniola. It details what drove individuals to a life of piracy, how they dressed, their weaponry, the ships they used and the codes by which they operated. Whether viewed as villains or victims the Pirates were a major threat to shipping and commerce in the western Atlantic for more than 70 years.
In mid-September 1943, as the opening move of the Allied campaign to liberate the mainland of Italy, an Anglo-American invasion force landed on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno, only a few dozen miles to the south of Naples. Italy had just surrendered, and the soldiers in the landing craft prayed that the invasion would be unopposed. It was not to be. The Germans had seized control of the Italian-built beach defences, and were ready and waiting. What followed was one of the bloodiest battles of the whole Mediterranean campaign - a ten day contest where victory hung in the balance. Over 80,000 British and American soldiers waded ashore at Salerno, and after bitter fighting they managed to establish a narrow and vulnerable bridgehead. The British enclave near Salerno was separated from the American sector around Paestum by a river, and German-held strongpoints. All attempts to link up the two parts of the bridgehead were thwarted by the German defenders, who were being reinforced faster than the Allies. Then the Americans were nearly flung back into the sea by a ferocious German counterattack, as the German commander on the spot used his veteran armour and Panzergrenadiers to deadly effect. Although driven back towards the beach, the Americans rallied and grimly held on, and the crisis passed. The ferocious ten-day battle at Salerno was eventually decided by a combination of Allied reinforcements, and secondary landings in support of the beleaguered Salerno bridgehead. The battle for Salerno changed the course of the campaign - by its end it was clear that wherever possible the Germans were going to fight for every inch of ground in Italy, and the campaign was not going to be the easy victory the Allied commanders had hoped. Using documentary records, memoirs and eyewitness accounts from all sides, Angus Konstam recreates the battle day by day, hour by hour. His methodically researched account offers a fresh perspective on a decisive battle that has largely been neglected by British and American historians in recent years.
Labelled a 'splendid little war' by Senator John Hay, the Spanish American War (1898) was a peculiar event in America's history, provoked as much by the press as by political pressures. Here, aided by superbly detailed maps and artwork, the author deals with the clashes at Las Guasimas and El Caney, the capture of San Juan Hill, and the naval battle and siege of Santiago. The war was to mark the end of Spanish sovereignty in her 'New World', and the establishment of the United States of America as a world power.
A strategically important natural harbor in the Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow served as Britain's main fleet anchorage during World Wars I and II. It held Jellicoe's Grand Fleet from 1914-18, and it was from here that it sailed out to do battle with the Germans at Jutland in 1916. In 1914 the British began building a comprehensive defensive network by fortifying the entrances to Scapa Flow and then extending these defenses to cover most of Orkney. These static defenses were augmented with boom nets, naval patrols and minefields, creating the largest fortified naval base in the world.With the outbreak of the Second World War, Scapa Flow again proved ideally situated to counter the German naval threat and served as the base for Britain's Home Fleet. Despite constant attacks from aircraft and U-boats, one of which managed to sink the British battleship Royal Oak, the defenses of Scapa Flow were again augmented and improved. By 1940, Orkney had become an island fortress, the largest integrated defensive network of its kind in Europe, manned by as many as 50,000 Commonwealth troops.Backed by newly commissioned artwork, naval historian Angus Konstam tells the story of this mighty naval fortress, many pieces of which can still be seen on the island today.
When the Romans left Britain around AD 410 the island had not been fully subjugated. In the Celtic fringe of Caledonia - now Northern Scotland - these unconquered native peoples were presented with the opportunity to pillage what remained of Roman Britain. By way of response the Post-Roman Britons of what is now Scotland did their best to defend themselves from attack, and to preserve what they could of the economic and administrative systems left behind by the Romans. While some old Roman forts were maintained, the Post-Roman Britons in the area created new strongholds, or re-occupied some of the long-abandoned hill-forts first built by their ancestors before the coming of the Romans. Meanwhile the Caledonians - who evolved into the Picts - relied on fortifications to maintain control over their land.Then a new wave of invaders arrived from across the Irish Sea. The Scots came first to conquer, then to settle. In their wake came the Angles and Saxons, driving north to occupy most of Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth, and later the Vikings arrived from the north and east. During the variety of ensuing struggles, the Picts, Scots, Vikings, Northumbrians and North Britons made extensive use of fortifications, the remains of which still dot the modern landscape.This book traces the origins and development of these North British forts. It also touches on the way they served as secular or religious centers, seats of power, or as barriers against invasion. It will also discuss the mystery surrounding the Picts, and show how modern archaeology has done much to reveal the way these enigmatic people waged war, and defended their strongholds.
At the start of the American Civil War, neither side had warships on the Mississippi River, which was a vital strategic artery. In what would prove the vital naval campaign of the war, both sides fought for control of the river. While the Confederates relied on field fortifications and small gunboats, the Union built a series of revolutionary river ironclads. First commissioned in January 1862, these ironclads spent the next two years battling for control of the Mississippi, fighting in a string of decisive engagements that altered the entire course of the war. This book explains how these vessels worked, how they were constructed, how they were manned and how they were fought.
Three times during the 17th century, England and Holland went to war as part of an ongoing struggle for economic and naval supremacy. Primarily fought in the cold waters of the North Sea and the English Channel, the wars proved revolutionary in their impact upon warship design, armament, and naval tactics. During this time, the warship evolved into the true ship-of-the-line that would dominate naval warfare until the advent of steam power. This book traces the development of these warships in the context of the three Anglo-Dutch wars.
From the end of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th, most Western powers maintained a naval presence in China. These gunboats protected traders and missionaries, safeguarded national interests, and patrolled Chinese rivers in search of pirates. It was a wild, lawless time in China as ruthless warlords fought numerous small wars to increase their power and influence. This book covers the gunboats of all the major nations that stationed naval forces in China, including America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Japan, and looks at such famous incidents as the Japanese bombing of the USS Patay and the dramatic escape of the HMS Amethyst from Communist forces in 1947, which marked the end of the gunboat era.
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