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Hawke, Nelson and British Naval Leadership, 1747-1805

Hawke, Nelson and British Naval Leadership, 1747-1805

Ruddock Mackay
Michael Duffy
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81hc6
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  • Book Info
    Hawke, Nelson and British Naval Leadership, 1747-1805
    Book Description:

    Unlike other books on eighteenth-century British admirals, which tell and re-tell the history of admirals' successful exploits, this book investigates what exactly were the qualities which made for successful naval leadership in this period. It identifies

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-731-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-vii)
    RUDDOCK MACKAY and MICHAEL DUFFY
  5. [Maps]
    (pp. viii-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    On 6 February 1806 a British squadron of seven ships of the line bore down on a French squadron of five they had just surprised and which were running before them off San Domingo. In a two-hour fight the British took or destroyed them all in the last significant battle of the great naval Armageddon that had raged with short intermissions over the previous six decades since the dismal (for the British) battle of Toulon in 1744. The one British officer to distinguish himself off Toulon was Captain Edward Hawke, and Hawke went on to become the most successful British...

  7. 1 HAWKE’S RISE TO LEADERSHIP
    (pp. 13-44)

    Edward hawke lived from 1705 to 1781. His father was a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn who died in 1718. Very little is known of Hawke’s early years. He had a sister called Frances who married the son of a bishop. But a feature of Hawke’s life is the lack of anything like the fund of private documentation that illuminates the life of his tactical inheritor, Horatio Nelson. However, the tenuous strength of Hawke’s naval patronage compares quite closely with Nelson’s. It stemmed from his mother’s brother, Colonel Martin Bladen who was a Member of Parliament, a commissioner of trade and...

  8. 2 HAWKE AT HIS PEAK: FROM BREST TO QUIBERON BAY IN 1759
    (pp. 45-88)

    In may 1759 Hawke was appointed to command Britain’s principal fleet, despite his resignation of command in 1758. When, to the considerable alarm of the governing classes and opinion in the country, the government learnt early in 1759 that the French intended to invade the British Isles, there was little surprise that Hawke was restored to the chief command. The first necessity was to have a strong Western Squadron under an expert commander cruising in strength off the main French naval base at Brest.

    At this point the politico-strategic situation for Britain was as follows. Since 1757, the governing coalition...

  9. 3 THE STANDARDS OF LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE IN THE AGE OF SAIL
    (pp. 89-121)

    In 1801 The Naval Chronicle contained a letter of advice written in mid-century by an admiral to his son, a junior officer, ‘on the duty of captains’, pointing out that if he looked for higher preferment in the navy, he should also look beyond captain ‘and never lose sight of the worthy and brave examples of such Officers as have commanded in chief, and gallantly distinguished themselves in the service of the king and country’.¹ There were books at hand that told of these exploits such as the Secretary to the Admiralty Board, Josiah Burchett’s A Complete History of the...

  10. 4 HAWKE’S TACTICAL LEGACY NEGLECTED, 1778–1797
    (pp. 122-161)

    On 17 October 1781 Lord Hawke died. Next day Horace Walpole reported his death to the British envoy in Florence, linking it with the latest news from the war in America: ‘The Admirals Graves and Hood have attacked a superior French fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake and have not beaten it. … Lord Hawke is dead and does not seem to have bequeathed his mantle to anybody.’¹ A day later, as a result of the navy’s failure to rescue him, Lord Cornwallis surrendered his army to George Washington at Yorktown, on the Chesapeake, in the disaster that finally...

  11. 5 HAWKE’S STRATEGIC LEGACY LOST AND REDISCOVERED, 1778–1808
    (pp. 162-185)

    While a decisive battle, such as Quiberon Bay or Trafalgar, might provide the solution to many of an admiral’s most pressing problems, an indecisive battle such as Ushant might return an admiral’s damaged fleet to port like his opponent, and most frequently one or other of the opposing fleets felt itself to be inferior and sought to avoid battle anyway. Battles at sea were consequently infrequent in number and often indecisive in character. If an admiral could not take, sink or otherwise destroy his enemy, he had to find alternative means to nullify the threat and fulfil the navy’s wartime...

  12. 6 NELSON’S PATH TO GLORY
    (pp. 187-216)

    Horatio Nelson was born on 29 September 1758 in the middle of the Seven Years’ War and entered the navy on 1 January 1771 at the age of 12. All his formative years as a boy, captain’s servant, midshipman and lieutenant were spent in the after-glow of British success in that war. He felt personally identified with it through the exploits of his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, and looking for a lucky omen as his fleet sailed into battle at Trafalgar, he told those around him that 21 October was ‘the happiest day of the year among his family’.¹ It...

  13. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 217-223)

    In our first three chapters, we saw how Edward Hawke established himself as the foremost operational leader of the navy in the period ending in 1763. As a captain off Toulon in 1744 he had his first experience of battle and at once demonstrated the moral courage and tactics of very close engagement that characterised his subsequent performance as an admiral. But allied to those qualities was an ability to assess the strategic picture. It varied from the subtle moves and calculations that produced his unprecedented interception of a major French force and convoy some 300 miles to the west...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 224-232)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 233-240)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-241)