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"Convoys: The British Struggle Against Napoleonic Europe" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2023 8:47 p.m. PST

…and America

"During the Napoleonic Wars thousands of merchant ships crisscrossed narrow seas and wide oceans, protected by Britain's warships. These were wars of attrition and raw materials had to reach their shores continuously: timber and hemp from the Baltic, sulfur from Sicily, and saltpeter from Bengal. Britain's fate rested on the strength of its economy—and convoys played a vital role in securing victory.

Leading naval historian Roger Knight examines how convoys ensured the protection of trade and transport of troops, allowing Britain to take the upper hand. Detailing the many hardships these ships faced, from the shortage of seaman to the vicissitudes of the weather, Knight sheds light on the innovation and seamanship skills that made convoys such an invaluable tool in Britain's arsenal. The convoy system laid the foundation for Britain's narrow victory over Napoleon and his allies in 1815 and, in doing so, established its naval and mercantile power at sea for a hundred years."


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Rittmester Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2023 7:25 a.m. PST

Thanks, very interesting!

BrianW15 Mar 2023 2:28 p.m. PST

Thanks, Armand. Just ordered that one.

ConnaughtRanger15 Mar 2023 3:58 p.m. PST

Fascinating topic. Bonaparte's almost non-existent knowledge of or interest in maritime issues were significant factors in his overall downfall. Germany in both World Wars made the same mistake of not committing enough resources to throttling Britain's maritime trade routes. Big armies marching around Mainland Europe are apparently so much more appealing?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2023 4:01 p.m. PST

Napoleon most certainly had a great interest in 'maritime issues.' He had fine ships built, and reorganized the navy's crews on a military foundation and model. What he couldn't change was the mindset of the admirals for the most part and that was a major problem with the Imperial Navy.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2023 4:26 p.m. PST

Happy for that my friend…


Blutarski18 Mar 2023 7:23 a.m. PST

It's worth noting that convoys have had a long and distinguished history. The Spanish "plate fleets" carrying the wealth of the New World to Spain were effectively convoys.

Convoys were the standard means of wartime logistical transport for all maritime nations in the AWI and FR. In fact, the Glorious First of June was in fact a convoy defense action strategically won by France ….. the great grain convoy from America safely reached France and saved the revolutionary French regime.


ConnaughtRanger18 Mar 2023 1:06 p.m. PST

Must be why the French refer to it as "The Glorious First of June"?

Blutarski19 Mar 2023 8:26 a.m. PST

Hi Connaught,
The only reason that Villaret-Joyeuse was at sea with his fleet was to ensure that the great grain convoy from the Americas safely reached France. France was literally starving at the time and the political fate of the First Republic was considered to be hanging in the balance.

An essentially rag-tag French fleet fought bravely against a superior quality British opponent. The grain convoy safely reached France. The population was fed. The government survived.

No one cared about the tactical scorecard. The food crisis was averted and the government survived in exchange for the loss of seven ships. Villaret-Joyeuse was publicly feted and promoted.

Strategic Victory.

Look at it this way: the British revere, commemorate and celebrate Dunkirk to this day – yet driving the BEF from the shores of France was a major tactical/operational victory for Germany.

Nuff said. Moving on. Enjoy the day.


ConnaughtRanger19 Mar 2023 12:05 p.m. PST

By the same token, the Germans' failure to destroy/capture almost 200,000 BEF and 140,000 French/Belgian troops was a Strategic Defeat?

Blutarski19 Mar 2023 12:36 p.m. PST

Hi Connaught,

You wrote -

By the same token, the Germans' failure to destroy/capture almost 200,000 BEF and 140,000 French/Belgian troops was a Strategic Defeat?

The National Army Museum does not appear to consider the 1940 campaign in France a "strategic defeat" for Germany.
Go here – link


ConnaughtRanger19 Mar 2023 1:17 p.m. PST

Perhaps because over here we can recognise a "victory" from a "defeat"?

Blutarski19 Mar 2023 3:55 p.m. PST

Whatever turns you on, Connaught. Nice chatting!


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