During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy increased its manpower from fewer than 20,000 to more than 147,000 men, with a concomitant increase in the quantities of food and drink required to sustain them. The organisation responsible for this, the Victualling Board, performed its tasks using techniques and systems which it had developed over the previous 110 years. In terms of actually delivering supplies to warships, troopships and army garrisons abroad, the Victualling Board performed well given the constraints of long-distance communications and intermittent difficulties in obtaining supplies. However, its other areas of responsibility showed poor performance, as evidenced by the reports of several Parliamentary enquiries. This book examines in detail the processes by which the Victualling Board performed its core and non-core tasks, identifying the areas of competence and incompetence, and establishing the underlying causes of the incompetencies. JANET MACDONALD, author of the highly acclaimed Feeding Nelson's Navy (Chatham, 2004), has recently completed a thesis at King's College London. After a business career, and running an equestrian organisation, she spent ten years as a freelance writer, publishing more than thirty books.
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