Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
BOOK REVIEW: The Great Expedition – Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish Main, 1585-86
By Angus Konstam, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, England, (2011).
Reviewed by Charles Bogart
For the past decade, Osprey Publishing has been producing high quality, well illustrated books on various military affairs. This book is part of their Raid Series and tells the story of Sir Francis Drake’s raid on Spanish possessions in the Caribbean Sea. With a force of 21 small ships and 1,800 men, Drake, in 1585, captured and plundered the cities of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and Cartagena (Columbia). This raid was planned to show the military weakness of the Spanish colonial empire, from which the Spanish Crown drew the gold and silver it needed to fight its battles of conquest in Europe.
On 22 March 1820, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a hero of the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, died after a duel with Captain James Barron at Bladensburg, Maryland. Barron’s career had never recovered from the surrender of USS Chesapeake to HMS Leopard in 1807, and he blamed Decatur for criticism of his leadership during that brief battle.
This 1858 engraving of Decatur was by G.R. Hall, after a painting by Alonzo Chappel. (NHHC Photo NH 50524)