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21 October 1805, 210 years ago, the Battle of Trafalgar was fought off the southwest coast of Spain.

“Do my duty? I’ve always done my duty; haven’t you, Jack?” was the indignant answer of an unknown sailor HMS “Ajax” to Nelson’s famous signal that actually was meant to read “Nelson confides that every man will do his duty”, but time was pressing, Nelson insisted to signal No 16: “Engage the enemy more closely” to his fleet and then “Ajax” followed “Victory” into the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson’s words according to Popham’s numeric code became immortal, history was made and Britannia ruled the waves for the next hundred years.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/10/do-my-duty-ive-always-done-my-duty.html

Depicted below is J.M.W. Turner: “The Battle of Trafalgar, as seen from the starboard mizzen shrouds of the Victory” (1806 – 1808)

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #napoelonicwars #navalhistory #trafalgar #trafalgarday #battleoftrafalgar


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20 November 1759, #onthisday during the Seven Years’ War, Lord Hawke with 24 sail-of-the-line decisively defeated Admiral de Conflans' 21 battleships in a hard fought battle during a November storm off the coast of Brittany in the Battle of Quiberon Bay.


Even if Boscawen’s victory off Lagos had effectively put the French Mediterranean squadron out of the war, 21 battleships under Marshal de Conflans still lay in the mouth of the Loire to escort a ramshackle invasion fleet and 100,000 French and Imperial troops across the Channel to invade Southern England, Ireland and Scotland where the Jacobite Rising of Forty-five and Charles Stuart, now in France, were not forgotten. Even without the reinforcements of the 12 ships-of-the-line from the Med that never came, the Duc de Choiseul’s plan to end the Seven Years’ War within a couple of months was still a serious threat, especially because most of Britain’s line troops were deployed abroad, from Canada to Central Europe and India, the militia back home rioted and everybody, the French, the British and the rest of the world anxiously watched the weather in the Channel. Admittedly, weather conditions in the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel and the North Sea are not especially known for unseasonal improvements and Admiral Hawke’s blockading squadron of 24 battleships still stood off shore to end the threat for good. Public opinion in England was not in Hawke’s favour, though, as he had let slip already three convoys through the blockade over the last years with troops that were now fighting in the Americas and effigies of Hawke were hung from pub signs all along the coast of England in disdain. To top it all, fierce November gales had forced Hawke’s squadron back to Torbay. And the French were out at sea already. De Conflans had sailed on the 14th of November from Brest for the Gulf of Morbihan to collect the transports and the weather be damned.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/now-obey-my-order-and-lay-me-alongside.html


Depicted below is Nicholas Pocock’s (1740 - 1821): "The Battle of Quiberon Bay" (1812)

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory



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11 October 1797, #onthisday the Battle of Camperdown was fought off the coast of North Holland between the navies of the Dutch Batavian Republic under the command of Vice-Admiral Jan de Winter and the Royal Navy under Admiral Adam Duncan, resulting in one of the most decisive British naval victories won at sea during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Bull at the gate was Duncan’s style. At court-martials, at sea, in a fight and when the British Channel and North Sea squadrons mutinied at Spithead and the Nore in the spring of 1797, the broad chested, 6’4’’ sexagenarian Scottish admiral grabbed a sailor who challenged his authority by the neck, held him over the side of HMS “Adamant” and cried "My lads - look at this fellow - he who dares to deprive me of command of the fleet" and the crew of his own flagship, HMS “Venerable”, apologised: “We humbly implore your honour's pardon with hearts full of gratitude and tears in our eyes for the offense we have given to the worthiest of commanders who has proved a father to us". For a couple of weeks though, the British battle fleet in the North sea consisted of these two ships-of-the-line while almost the whole navy of the Dutch Batavian Republic was fitted out and ready to sail for the Channel and land 30,000 men in Ireland to support Wolf Tone’s rebellion. If it wasn't for the strong easterly gales that blew from the Atlantic that summer that kept the Dutch under Admiral de Winter bottled up in the Texel, history might have taken a quite different course. By the end of August, Duncan’s Nore squadron was back in full strength off North Holland and ready to give battle.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/i-would-much-rather-take-brave-mans.html

Depicted below is Philip de Loutherbourg: “The Battle of Camperdown“ (1799)

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #navalhistory



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28 August 1833, #onthisday Royal assent was given to the Act of Parliament abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire.

Trading slaves was illegal since 1807 in the British Empire and to prevent the French from taking over the immensely lucrative transatlantic triangular trade, a small squadron of fast warships was based in West Africa to capture slavers, among them many English merchantmen sailing under all sorts of colours. It was the foundation of the “West Africa Squadron” of the Royal Navy, one of the most unpopular postings in the whole service because of the risks to health, the rather underdeveloped medical facilities and know-how to treat tropical diseases leading to death rates of sometimes 50% among officers and crews and certainly one of the most celebrated peace-time actions and certainly one of the most noble, capturing 1,600 slave ships and freeing 150,000 kidnapped Africans between 1808 and 1860.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2013/08/the-unweary-unostentatious-and.html

Depicted below is Montague Dawson’s (1895-1973): 'Chasing the slaver': Her Majesty's brig Acorn in chase of the piratical slaver Gabriel, 6th July 1841

#ageofsail, #colonialhistory, #europeanhistory, #history, #navalhistory

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27 August 1816, #onthisday a squadron of Dutch and British warships under the command of the naval hero Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth, bombarded Algiers to force the Dey Omar Agha to finally put an end to piracy and slavery on the Barbary Coast and the Western Mediterranean.

When the European nations finally stopped being at each other's throats in 1815, the days of the Barbary Pirates were finally numbered. Still nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire, the corsairs operating from ports along the North African coast, Tripoli, Tunis, Salé and Algiers, were still a force to be reckoned with, terrorising shipping in the Mediterranean and even the Atlantic, capturing cargoes and crews from European and American merchantmen and selling the latter as slaves into the Near and Middle East. When the Dey of Algiers finally came up with the bright idea to capture Italian fishing boats sailing under the British flag and execute their crews for good measure, the European powers had it. A formidable Royal Navy squadron was ordered from Gibraltar to North Africa.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/sir-for-your-atrocities-at-bona-on.html

Depicted below is the British naval painter Thomas Luny’s (1759 – 1837) interpretation of the action at Algiers.

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #navalhistory #pirates

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10 July 1790, #onthisday during the climax of the Russo-Swedish War, the Battle of Svensksund ended with a nearly complete Swedish victory in one of the largest naval engagements ever fought.

In contrast to the incredibly savage religious wars of the 17th and the national wars of the 19th century about to bloodily dawn on Europe, Cabinet Wars, named after the war cabinet absolute rulers of the age gathered around them in case of conflict, were waged with limited, manageable military goals usually for minor territorial gains and with minor suffering of non combatants. At least in theory. However, enlightened despot Gustav III of Sweden picked arguably the last of these quarrels with his first cousin Catherine the Great of Russia in 1788. His plan to invade near St Petersburg, force her to make concessions and help him to overcome a severe domestic political crisis depended on naval supremacy in the Eastern Baltic Sea and that cunning plan somehow foundered until both powers’ highly specialised coastal fleets met at Svensksund, some 80 miles east of Helsinki.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/07/forget-war-as-passing-cloud-battle-of.html


Depicted below is Johan Tietrich Schoultz’s (1754 - 1807): "Slaget vid Svensksund" (The Battle of Svensksund, 1791)

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #navalhistory

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1 June 1813, #onthisday off Boston during the War of 1812, the British frigate HMS “Shannon”, Cpt. Philip Broke, captured USS “Chesapeake”, Cpt. James Lawrence, in a brief, bloody action.

They called her the “runt of the litter” of the 6 original US Navy frigates and she had a reputation of being an unlucky ship. Not a completely far-fetched notion. USS “Chesapeake” already made headlines in 1807 as the US Navy vessel being searched by the Royal Navy for deserters without mounting any kind of resistance during the “Chesapeake–Leopard Affair”, one of the major causes of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the young United States. When war finally broke out five years later, she would be the one who broke the American run of victories at sea in single-ship duels.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/06/dont-give-up-ship-capture-of-uss.html

Depicted below is the Danish painter Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg’s (1783 – 1853) imagination of "The Fight between the English frigate Shannon and the American frigate "Chesapeake" from 1836.

#ageofsail #americanhistory #history #militaryhistory #navalhistory #warof1812
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6 May 1801, #onthisday 215 years ago, "el Diablo" Commander Thomas Cochrane's commerce raiding cruise in the Western Mediterranean reached its climax off Barcelona when his brig sloop HMS “Speedy” met with the Spanish xebec frigate “El Gamo”, dispatched to put a stop to Cochrane’s game.

They didn’t call him “El Diablo” for nothing. But then, many of his brother officers and especially his superiors would have heartily agreed. The proud, outspoken, brilliant, daring, capricious and quite quixotic Scottish lord simply would not fit in. Even so, after war broke out in 1793 and Cochrane, aged 17, had joined the Royal Navy it took the maverick mariner five years anyhow to get court-martialled for insubordination and “flippancy” and earn the lasting enmity of many. He was given command of a man-of-war in 1800 none the less, or what passed for one, a cockleshell brig-sloop named HMS “Speedy” and Cochrane saw her as “little more than a burlesque of a vessel of war". But he made the best of it, capturing more than 50 Spanish and French merchantmen over the following 13 months, playing nearly every trick from the book of commerce raiding and in fact writing a few new chapters. And then the Spanish had it and sent the powerful frigate “El Gamo”.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/05/the-action-of-6-may-1801-el-diablo.html

Depicted below is British marine painter Clarkson Frederick Stanfield’s (1793 - 1863): "The Action and Capture of the Spanish Xebeque Frigate El Gamo" (1845)

#ageofsail #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #napoleonicwars #navalhistory
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28 March 1814, #onthisday off the Chilean coast during the War of 1812, Cpt David Porter’s USS “Essex” was captured by the frigate HMS “Phoebe”, James Hillyar, and the sloop HMS “Cherub” in the Battle of Valparaiso.

With the Royal Navy occupied elsewhere, Captain David Porter had a free hand in the Pacific Ocean and virtually destroyed the British whaling fleet in these water during his 17-month cruise. When he finally cast anchor in the neutral Chilean port of Valparaiso, Captain Hillyar’s frigate HMS “Phoebe”, under orders to catch Porter at all costs, entered the scene and brought him to battle after a somewhat curious siege lasting six weeks.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/03/we-have-been-unfortunate-but-not.html

Depicted below is an almost contemporary image of the engagement's climax from the Beverley Robinson collection at the United States Naval Academy.

#ageofsail #americanhistory #europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #navalhistory #warof1812


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#onthisday , the bloody but indecisive Action of 7 February 1813 was fought on the shores of Guinea between two almost evenly matched frigates, the French “Aréthuse” and HMS “Amelia”.

Commerce raiding, the guerre de course, “war of chase” or Kreuzerkrieg, “war of cruisers”, wasn’t exactly a brand new idea when, during the second half of the 19th century, the French Jeune École came forth with their concept of new naval strategies to counter large battle fleets, usually that of the Royal Navy. With his remaining heavy-weights blockaded, bottled up and rotting at anchor in the various naval bases from Brest to Toulon after Trafalgar, Denis Decrès, Napoleon’s Minister of the Navy, had practically no other choice than resort to the old tradition of the guerre de course and anticipating the Jeune École by 50 years to do at least something against the British at sea. Consequently, in December 1812, a brace of “Pallas”-class frigates, “Rubis” and “Aréthuse”, slipped the British blockade and sailed for West Africa for their guerre de course.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/02/as-is-usual-in-few-cases-of-drawn.html


Depicted below is the French naval painter Louis-Philippe Crépin’s (1772–1851) imagination of: "The battle between Aréthuse and Amelia on the shores of Guinea, 7 February 1813" (before 1820)


#europeanhistory #history   #militaryhistory   #nageofsail   #napoleonicwars   #navalhistory
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