British Naval Captains of the Seven Years War
The View from the Quarterdeck
Date of publication: September 2012
'We have always known who were the captains of the Seven Years' War, in the sense of having lists of their names. A few of them, who later became famous, we knew personally at least a little, but until now most of them have never been more than names. The genius of this book is to bring them to life as individuals; to show their hopes and fears, their faults and virtues, and to fill in the details of their working lives.
This book provides a detailed insight into the operations of the British Navy during the Seven Years' War by examining the experiences of the cohort of men promoted to the rank of captain in 1757. Byrne McLeod outlines their early careers, discusses how they were selected for promotion and examines the opportunities for making reputations and fortunes through action first against the French and then also the Spanish.
She also demonstrates the iron control wielded by the Admiralty over its captains and shows that, although connections and interest assisted greatly with promotion, allegations of 'corruption' were misplaced. The navy in this period was highly effective: an extremely complex and efficient bureaucracy where merit was most definitely rewarded. Based on extensive original research, this book explores the everyday minutiae of the captains' duties and responsibilities.
The captains were well aware that every detail of their commands contributed to their effectiveness as fighting machines. From never-ending convoy protection to large-scale, world-wide amphibious operations, these men served in what has rightly been called the first global war. Maritime and eighteenth-century historians will find this book particularly rewarding.
A.B. McLeod obtained her doctorate in naval history from the University of Exeter following careers as a teacher and in the City.