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  1. The Admiral Benbow

    Willis, Sam.
    London : Quercus, 2010.

    Admiral John Benbow was an English naval hero, a fighting sailor of ruthless methods but indomitable courage. Benbow was a man to be reckoned with. In 1702, however, when Benbow engaged a French squadron off the Spanish main, other ships in his squadron failed to support him. His leg shattered by a cannon-ball, Benbow fought on - but to no avail: the French escaped and the stricken Benbow succumbed to his wounds. When the story of his 'Last Fight' reached England, there was an outcry. Two of the captains who had abandoned him were court-martialled and shot; 'Brave Benbow' was elevated from national hero to national legend, his valour immortalized in broadsheet and folksong: ships were named after him; Tennyson later feted him in verse; in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, the tavern where Jim Hawkins and his mother live is called 'The Admiral Benbow'. For the very first time, Sam Willis tells the extraordinary story of Admiral Benbow through an age of dramatic change, from his birth under Cromwell's Commonwealth; to service under the restored Stuart monarchy; to the Glorious Revolution of 1688; to the French wars of Louis XIV; and finally to the bitter betrayal of 1702. The Admiral Benbow covers all aspects of seventeenth century naval life in richly vivid detail, from strategy and tactics to health and discipline. But Benbow also worked in the Royal Dockyards, lived in Samuel Evelyn's House, knew Peter the Great, helped to found the first naval hospital, and helped to build the first offshore lighthouse. The second volume in the Hearts of Oak trilogy, from one of Britain's most exciting young historians, The Admiral Benbow is a gripping and detailed account of the making of a naval legend.

  2. Fighting at sea in the eighteenth century : the art of sailing warfare

    Willis, Sam
    Paperback edition. - Woodbridge : The Boydell Press, 2023.

  3. Fighting at sea in the eighteenth century : the art of sailing warfare

    Willis, Sam.
    Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK : Boydell Press ; Rochester, NY : Boydell & Brewer, 2008.

    Our understanding of warfare at sea in the eighteenth century has always been divorced from the practical realities of fighting at sea under sail; our knowledge of tactics is largely based upon the ideas of contemporary theorists (rather than practitioners) who knew little of the realities of sailing warfare, and our knowledge of command is similarly flawed. In this book the author presents new evidence from contemporary sources that overturns many old assumptions and introduces a host of new ideas. In a series of thematic chapters, following the rough chronology of a sea fight from initial contact to damage repair, the author offers a dramatic interpretation of fighting at sea in the eighteenth century, and explains in greater depth than ever before how and why sea battles (including Trafalgar) were won and lost in the great Age of Sail.He explains in detail how two ships or fleets identified each other to be enemies; how and why they manoeuvred for battle; and, how a commander communicated his ideas, and how and why his subordinates acted in the way that they did. Sam Willis has lectured at Bristol University and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He is also the author of "Fighting Ships, 1750-1850" (Quercus).

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