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English and US ships compared 1817

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Found this US History of the War volume from 1817 which compares the performance and technical aspects of ships in the 'recent war'. There are some interesting comments about the construction of English LIVELY class frigates starting around page 124, plus plenty of others.

The PDF document title is mine, not original.

US comparisons of ships 1817.pdf

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This is an inteeresting and historically useful volume if one accepts the pro-British bias of the author.  Roosevelt (many years later) published his rebuttal.  James' most significant conclusion was that no American vessel of equal force ever captured a British ship - an assertion which has remained essentially unchallenged.  Arguments instead revolve around degrees of difference.  However, as TR noted: "And it must always be remembered that a victory, honourably won, if even over a weaker foe, does reflect credit on the nation by whom it is gained. It was creditable to us as a nation that our ships were better made and better armed then the British frigates....Some of my countrymen will consider this but scant approbation, to which the answer must be that a history is not a panegyric."

 

James, William. 1817. A Full and Correct Account of the Chief Naval Occurences of the Late War between Great Britain and the United States of America: Preceded by a Cursory Examination of the American Accounts of Their Naval Actions Fought Previous to That Period : To Which Is Added an Appendix with Plates. London : Printed for T. Egerton ... http://archive.org/details/cihm_35730.

 

Roosevelt, Theodore. 1882. The Naval War of 1812; or, The History of the United States during the Last War with Great Britain; to Which Is Appended an Account of the Battle of New Orleans. New York, Putnam. http://archive.org/details/navalwarof1812or00roosuoft.

 

 

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This is true. Saying that some historians today still try to claim otherwise. No other nation with stronger ships had the same run of victories in single ship actions and that in itself is impressive.

 

I don't subscribe to nationalistic reasons for victories in any war. Man for man all men are equal and it is training, leadership, equipment and logistics that tends to make the difference not 'a ship with 10 brits will easily beat one with 200 french' etc etc versions of history (replace with whatever war you fancy). It doesn't stop such assertions being made mainly to increase confidence and sometimes nationalistic fervour/pride. Therefore the system shock when it sometimes proves to be incorrect can be extreme. It is one reason why incorrect history can and has killed people and will probably continue to do so. 

 

 

 

 

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William James's early works are now considered by modern historians to be some of the first true, modern-type histories, since the author consulted primary source documents (logbooks), interviewed participants (friends with Philip Broke, for example) and included footnotes, graphs and appendixes. If you can look past his Anglophilic and Ameri-phobic snarks, you can still used his information today. His six volume series on the history of the British Navy during the Napoleonic period cannot be much improved upon, and many subsequent historians either quote or plagiarizes James's work. It is very scholarly work given it's early date.

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