We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

21 October is an important date in the history of European political integration

Trafalgar

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

27 comments to 21 October is an important date in the history of European political integration

  • Andrew Duffin

    Confusion to the French!

    May Boney grow bonier than ever!

  • Watchman

    What mystifies me on that map is quite what HMS Africa was doing at the top. Was it the nineteenth-century naval equivalent of the guys who try and sneak into the wall of defenders when a free kick is awarded in football? I could look it up I suppose, but it’s much more fun to speculate…

    And then there is the question of why a French ship was called the Berwick. Unless it was previously a British ship I suppose.

  • Watchman, I do believe that it was a common practice to rebuild and commission captured ships.

    HMS Guerrire

  • Itellyounothing

    HMS Africa looks like a scout to ensure nobody cut round the British fleet.

  • Watchman, as Leslie Bates has said, captured ships often kept their original names. If I may quote from a post I did on this subject in my own blog ten years ago:

    ———

    An exchange of compliments. The BBC has an article about the new stamps issued to commemorate the bicentennial of Trafalgar.
    The stamps depict details from a rarely-displayed painting by William Heath showing the 1805 battle.

    “The two first class stamps show Nelson wounded and the British ships, the cutter Entreprenante and Belleisle, which was left dismasted.

    But why, when France was the enemy, did two British ships have French names?

    According to this, the Entreprenante had been taken as a prize in 1800 and had been left with her original name, as was often the custom when a ship had put up a good fight. Someone once speculated that if the Napoleonic wars had gone on long enough the two fleets would eventually have swapped names entirely.

    That never came to pass, but real life went some way along that road. Villeneuve’s combined French and Spanish fleet included a Berwick, Nelson’s included the Tonnant, and there were three ship names that appeared in the line-ups of both fleets at Trafalgar: Swiftsure, Neptune and Achille. As if a British and a French Neptune were not enough, the Spanish provided a Neptuno.

    ———

    If you want to follow the original hyperlinks, the post is here.

  • AKM

    Wiki page for the HMS Africa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Africa_(1781)

    From that page: “…Having been separated from the main British fleet before the battle, the Africa arrived from a different direction without knowing the battle plan…”

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so.

    For five hundred years, from the time of the first Elizabeth, this island has played a very important part in “European unification”.

    PREVENTING IT.

    Whether it is Philip II of Spain.

    Louis XIV “The Sun King” of France.

    The various French Revolutionary regimes.

    Imperial Germany.

    National Socialist Germany.

    Or the Soviets.

    It has been the historical role of this island to fight AGAINST European “unity”

    People who claim to support freedom can not logically support “unification” – as it would lead to a reduction of the ability of people to “vote with their feet” for lower taxes and less regulations.

    And people who claim to be “conservatives” and “patriots” can not, honestly, oppose the historical role of this island in opposing “European Unity” that would inevitably be a mortal threat to the independence of this island.

    The defeat of the Spanish in 1588.

    The defeat of the French and Spanish in 1805, and of Napoleon in 1815.

    The Battle of Britain in 1940.

    These are central dates of our history.

    People who are not proud of these events are neither libertarian or conservative.

    They are foes.

  • Laird

    It has been the historical role of this island to fight AGAINST European “unity”.

    A great line, Paul.

  • Regional

    The Brits liked to capture Yankee sailing ships after the unilateral declaration of independence as they were well made and it was cheaper.
    Ironically Barings merchant bank financed the Louisiana Purchase and hostilities officially ceased in 1812 although there were minor hostilities like warlike visits to Washington and New Orleans.

  • James Hargrave

    Berwick – the Spanish dukes of Berwick descending from one of James II and VII’s illegitimate offspring.

  • John Coles

    The British wanted to capture Yankee ships because they wanted to assess their design – New England men of war could sail closer to the wind and tended (displacement for displacement) to be faster. A capture eventually happened when HMS Shannon took the USS Chesapeake. Chesapeake was brought back to England (not the fucking UK) and, after examination and use as a hulk, finally sold for scrap. Her battered timbers can still be seen in Wickham, Hampshire where they were used to build the Chesapeake Mill.

  • RRS

    There is an old USMC jibe about John Paul Jones’

    Signal that I have not yet begun to fight

    A battered Marine in the tops countered:

    There’s always some SOB who doesn’t get the
    word.

    Such may have been the fate of HMS Africa at Trafalgar. She came late, out of formation and engaged by the standard engagement pattern of broadside exchanges, running down the line of allied ships; contra to Nelson’s tactic of formation disruption and stern-raking.

  • lucklucky

    So the French crossed the T and even then lost.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    More frog-bashing! All they wanted was a world-spanning empire with Paris as the capital of the world. They might even have changed Paris to Napoleonville. Was that too much to ask?

  • John Galt III

    I have read a book about that battle. It was a living hell for the men on those ships. A cannonball would pierce the hull and splinters the size of baseball (cricket) bats with razor sharp ends would go through a dozen sailors as if they were shot with a arrows at point blank range.

    American ships in those days had better wood. We had “live oak” everywhere in the South and other extremely dense hardwoods. One on one English ships didn’t stand a chance.

    Yeah, so Napoleon needed money for his war against the world so he sold us the “Louisiana Purchase” – 1,000,000 square miles from Louisiana to Montana. We were broke so we got England to lend us the money for the purchase and then Napoleon used the money to buy soldiers and guns to kill the English. A belated thank you. Never quite understood that one.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    I was reading something similar, except that Napoleon sold the purchase because he couldn’t stop the slave rebellion on Haiti. If he’d held on to that island, and the wealth from sugar that came with it, then America might have had to face some French armies defending French colonies! What a different history that would have made!

  • Regional

    JG3,
    It was actually a merchant bank set up by Rhinelander immigrants. The Frogs used the money to fight the Englanders as you say. When Wellington went frog shooting on the Iberian Peninsular his Army paid for every thing rather robbing the locals making it easier to get to Waterloo. So you can buy anybody’s arse with the right money.

  • We were broke so we got England to lend us the money for the purchase and then Napoleon used the money to buy soldiers and guns to kill the English. A belated thank you. Never quite understood that one.

    I heard somewhere that in order to hurry along his plans to attack England, Napolean placed orders for uniforms with English companies.

  • Rob

    Yes, much cheaper to capture an enemy ship than to build your own, and quicker too.

  • lucklucky

    Artillery at that time low range and the enemy had inferior crew quality, so crossing the T had not such influence like in past, in fact Nelson went with this strategy deliberately. If the French Spanish armada had better crews it might have not worked.

  • Yes, much cheaper to capture an enemy ship than to build your own, and quicker too.

    It was said at the time that Royal Navy ships were “built by the mile and cut to length” and thus captured French ships were highly valued as they were regarded as superior in many ways. The RN fairly consistently beat the French in this era but it sure as hell was not because the RN ships were better. It was more due to the crews being better trained, more experienced (a consequence of RN keeping the French bottled up in harbour was the decay of French seamanship) and the RN was generally better led at all levels (many French naval officers were appointed for their political reliability rather than their technical or leadership skills as the French government did not really trust their own navy).

  • Paul Marks

    Correct – it was constant service that made the Royal Navy better, not the quality of the ships.

    Gunnery was particularly good – unlike a century later (the First World War) when it had been allowed to slip a bit.

    The Victorian Navy, and the early 20th century Navy, came to stress conduct more – a reaction to the “rum, sodomy and the lash” of Nelson’s day.

    Some of modern language has pre Victorian Navy roots.

    “Show a leg” (show whether you were male or female from under the cover) – did not matter much when there were no longer women aboard ships.

    And “son of a gun” became an Americanism – it was forgotten that it had originally meant a baby whose bedding was tied under cannon.

    There is no substitute for constant practice.

    For example, in THEORY silk bags make perfect sense for storing powder, but no one in Nelson’s navy would have used silk bags.

    Sealed containers were used – with fast young boys (“powder monkeys”) to run about them.

    The Royal Navy of 1914 was, to some extent, living off past glories.

    The Royal Navy of 1805 were professional killers.

    Killing people is what they did – and they were good at it.

  • Regional

    I say old chap that ship sailing past us wants to rake our stern, let’s not pull down on the steering wheel so we’re oblique to their line of fire so we get it right in the rear gallery.

  • t was more due to the crews being better trained, more experienced (a consequence of RN keeping the French bottled up in harbour was the decay of French seamanship)

    And keeping the French bottled up left the RN with little to do while maintaining the siege than drill, drill, drill. Little wonder our lads were pretty handy when it came to the real thing.

  • many French naval officers were appointed for their political reliability rather than their technical or leadership skills

    Thank heavens this would never happen nowadays.

  • Paul Marks

    In the 19th and early 20th centuries France had some of the best pro freedom economists in the world.

    Also France was one of the freest economies.

    Little state education or welfare till very late in the 19th century.

    Just thought I would rebalance things a bit.

  • mojo

    I always liked “cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” as a relic of empire. Brass plates with holes, called monkeys, meant to hold cannonballs at the ready.