Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
BOOK REVIEW – Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron: The War of 1812 and the Forging of the American Navy
By Ronald D. Utt, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, (2012).
Reviewed by David Curtis Skaggs, Ph.D.
Entering the lists of War of 1812 naval history contenders is Ronald Utt’s Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron that seeks to demonstrate that this conflict forged the respected United States Navy that emerged in the nineteenth century. Or at least that is what his subtitle suggests is the objective of this popularized account of naval portion of what the British term “the second American war.” Utt enters in the long line of jousters that includes James Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt, and C. S. Forester. His most recent competitor is George Daughan’s 1812: The Navy’s War (2011).
BOOK REVIEW – The Privateering Stroke: Salem’s Privateers in the War of 1812
By Michael Rutstein, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Salem, MA (2012).
Reviewed by James C. Bradford, Ph.D.
Despite its important role in American defense policy from the Revolution through the War of 1812, privateering has never been the subject of a comprehensive study. This accounts, in part, for the fact that privateering, i.e., the system of licensing privately-owned vessels and individuals to capture enemy shipping, remains so poorly understood. Popular histories and the general public, more often than not, conflate privateering and its practitioners with piracy and/or commerce raiding by national navies. Historians of the War of 1812 have long understood that economic considerations, as much as military and naval defeats, led British leaders to seek peace in 1815. The 500 privateers licensed by the U.S. government contributed significantly to that pressure by capturing an average of 33 vessels per month worth a wartime total value of $40 million. These losses drove the price of British imports upward and pushed insurance rates to unprecedented levels.
In Their Own Words: A New Look at the Naval War of 1812
The emotions captured by the War of 1812: patriotic fervor, anxiety, the immediacy of the moment, the joy of peace… all and more abound in In Their Own Words. Whether encouraging peers, issuing orders to subordinates, lamenting a hero’s death or reporting a glorious frigate action, these emotions spring from the stirring contemporary letters, newspapers and broadsides of the War of 1812 assiduously assembled and presented by Vice Admiral George W. Emery, USN (Retired).
High School Student is Latest Addition to NHF Speakers Program
By William Whittenbury
Hello! My name is William Whittenbury. I live in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and attend Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. I live with my mom and dad and my amazing parakeet, Abraham.
I’ve been interested in naval history since before I can remember. However, my naval history interest began in earnest when I was about four years old. During an elementary school trip to the library, I was captivated by a beautifully illustrated volume about the hunt for the Bismarckin 1941.
On 28 March1814, British frigates HMS Cherub (at left) and Phoebe (at right) captured the U.S. Frigate Essex (center) off Valparaiso, Chile. Before the capture, Essex, under the command of Captain David Porter, had captured 24 British prizes during the War of 1812 while marauding the Pacific Ocean. This image of the battle is from the Beverley Robinson collection at the United States Naval Academy.
On 23 March 1815, U.S. Sloop of War Hornet captured the British brig-sloop Penguin in a battle lasting just over 20 minutes in the south Atlantic. Neither crew was aware that the War of 1812 had ended a month earlier.This painting by Carlton T. Chapman shows Hornet at left with Penguin heavily damaged. NHHC image 1857.
BOOK REVIEW – The Captain Who Burned His Ships: Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750-1829
By Gordon S. Brown Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, (2011).
Reviewed by John Grady
Thomas Tingey was not a giant among the officers of the early American Navy, but his career as a midshipman in the Royal Navy sailing to Newfoundland and the Caribbean with few prospects of promotion, as a merchantman during and after the Revolution and American naval officer provides a useful framework to measure the struggles inside the administrations of the new republic with its Navy and what role it should play.